Alcohol Effects on Teeth and Gums

Carbonated drinks and soda are bad for your teeth. But is alcohol bad for teeth as well? Are all kinds of alcoholic drinks damaging to your oral health? In this post, we’ll talk about the effects of alcohol on your dental health and if some types of…

Carbonated drinks and soda are bad for your teeth. But is alcohol bad for teeth as well? Are all kinds of alcoholic drinks damaging to your oral health? In this post, we’ll talk about the effects of alcohol on your dental health and if some types of drinks are harmless.

By the time you get to the end, you’ll also be fully aware of how to unwind without damaging your teeth and oral health at all. So, let’s begin by addressing the big question.

How does alcohol affect teeth?

Most alcoholic drinks contain tons of sugar. Especially wine and beer, their sugar content is natural in the sense that no added sugar is present in their composition. However, all such drinks are acidic.

However, if you consume a lot of alcohol, there is a chance that you may experience enamel decay. If you also have poor dental hygiene, then you are further exposing yourself to dental damage. Here are some of the specific effects of alcohol on your teeth:

Dental decay

The most amount of acidic content that your mouth can tolerate is about 5.5 on the pH scale. But the liquor, along with the mixing agents used to make drinks, all fall very low on the scale. Ideally, your saliva should be slightly basic, which is just above 7.0 pH.

If your mouth is exposed to an acidic environment for a long time, it is easier for bacteria to attack your teeth. The problem is the same with sugary drinks since they contain a lot of processed sugar on top of being acidic. In other words, alcohol and tooth decay share a cause-and-effect relation.

Teeth staining

Visually, what does alcohol do to your teeth? If you drink dark-colored drinks, you may suffer teeth staining. Drinks such as red wine have high tannin content and can leave a reddish stain on your teeth. Purple drinks can leave their mark in the form of colorations once you’re done. To prevent this, you should rinse your mouth or even brush right after you drink.

Gum diseases and effects on gums

It is very unlikely that your gums will be affected if you drink every once in a while. However, a study shows there is a strong correlation between heavy drinking and the development of gingivitis. Your mouth’s microbiome can be negatively influenced by constant exposure to alcohol and could lead to a lot of complications if you don’t take care of yourself.

If you’re a regular beer-drinker, you’ll want to cut down on your consumption because there is a link between periodontitis and alcohol reliance. Much like sugary drinks, beer and wine contain a lot of sugar, leading to bacteria infesting your mouth. Excessive sugar intake can cause irritation, bad breath, swelling, or in severe cases, bleeding.

Due to further neglect, advanced gum diseases can also cause the loosening of gums and eventual teeth loss. So, you could be looking at the long-term problems if you subject yourself to heavy alcohol dependency.

Effects of drinking on the tongue

Drinking causes dryness in the mouth. No matter how much you consume, there is always a sense of dryness following alcohol consumption. As proven by various other studies, a dry mouth is not a healthy mouth and is subject to all kinds of attacks from bacteria.

Since dryness is basically the absence of saliva in your mouth, it becomes difficult to deal with the acidity. As mentioned earlier, slightly basic saliva is essential in combating tooth damage due to drinking. Heavy drinking can also cause a white tongue, a condition where a white coating appears on the tongue. While it can also appear due to the food debris from an unclean mouth, it can also appear due to dehydration and alcohol usage.

Other risks of alcohol on oral health

You should also be aware of the other ways in which liquor consumption affects oral health. These are some of the not-so-common occurrences of declining oral health:

  • Oral cancer: Some studies state that there is a chance that alcohol, along with tobacco, may lead to oral cancer. While people who take both substances may seem more susceptible to developing the disease, it is not to say that you are safe if you only have one of these habits.
  • Dental trauma: Dental trauma is when your teeth are more susceptible to damage if you are in an accident or fall. This can result in missing teeth if you sustain any form of damage to the mouth and result in the teeth’ overall weakness.
    However, hard drinks often do not contain a lot of sugar, especially when you’re using water to dilute it. So, you’re a little safer if you’re a hard drinker.

Can I still enjoy alcohol without worrying about my oral health?

The short answer is yes, you can. But, you also need to take care of these other aspects to ensure that you do not risk your oral health:

  • Drink moderately to limit the amount of acid exposure in the mouth. This is also a good way to maintain other aspects of health.
  • Brush after drinking to clear away the bacteria that comes into your mouth.
  • Rinse your mouth after a drink if you do not have access to a brush.
  • Ensure you maintain proper oral hygiene regularly.
  • Eat snacks while drinking to encourage saliva production and limit acid attacks.
  • Drink a bottle of water through the session.

What have we discussed?

Does alcohol rot your teeth? Not really, but to an extent. So far, we have discussed the effect of alcohol on teeth and gums. As you can see, it is essential that you maintain proper oral hygiene and don’t overdrink to ensure that your mouth and your teeth are healthy and strong.

If you need help maintaining your dental health, contact Image Dental now. Visit us online today to schedule an appointment or call the office at (209) 955-1500.

Stephen Nozaki, DDS, MPH, DIDIA

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton. He is a dedicated professional born and raised in California's Central Valley. With a commitment to his community, he brings advanced dental techniques learned from extensive education and continuous training from around the world. A third-generation Japanese American, Dr. Nozaki has a rich background that includes international living and a deep passion for both dentistry and outdoor activities. His focus in dentistry aligns with his passion for cosmetics and dental implants.