The Truth About Alcohol and Your Oral Health

Alcohol impact on oral health

Alcohol consumption is something that most people do on occasion, whether it’s at a party, with friends, or just at home winding down for the evening (nightcap, anyone?). Alcohol can affect your health in many ways, and now you can add oral health to the list as well.

Though it’s not an area that you might normally associate with alcohol consumption, several things happen in your mouth when you drink that can impact your oral health over time. Here are some of the ways that alcoholic beverages may impact your mouth.

Alcohol and Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)

Most people are aware that alcohol is a drying agent. What many don’t realize is that this can have a significant impact on their oral tissues because of the drying action that alcohol causes. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, can be brought on by alcohol intake. And chronic dry mouth can lead to a significantly increased risk of cavities. This is because the lack of saliva allows bacteria to thrive in the mouth, and acid levels increase, leading to enamel erosion.

If you suffer from xerostomia, it’s important to take steps to keep your mouth hydrated. Drinking alcohol will only amplify the problem. Plus, the dry mouth it causes can add to issues like halitosis (bad breath.)

Supplementing with fluoride and getting fluoride treatments during your Paradise Dental Associates appointment is a good way to help remineralize your enamel if you frequently have a dry mouth.

Alcohol and Snoring, Sleep Apnea

Your oral anatomy and function play a huge role in your sleep quality. But alcohol consumption can change your oral tissues, making them more relaxed and likely to sag into your airway, causing oxygen blockage. Evening alcohol intake raises your risk of snoring and sleep-disordered breathing (sleep apnea).

If you already have problems with snoring or getting a good night’s rest, drinking alcohol right before bed will usually make the matter even worse. It’s better that you avoid the nightcap and give yourself at least a couple of hours between an evening drink and when your head hits the pillow.

Do Alcoholic Drinks Cause Cavities?

You may have heard that alcohol is bad for your teeth, but you may not know why. Like soda and flavored coffee, alcoholic drinks can indeed cause cavities.

Why? Because alcoholic drinks contain high amounts of sugar. Plus, alcohol can dry out your mouth, leading to bacteria growth created by the sugar in the drink. Does that mean you can’t have alcohol at all? No, but it does mean drinking in moderation or choosing beverages with lower sugar content lessens the chance of cavities. You can say the same thing for giving up your coffee creamer or sweet tea. Having it now and then is fine, but a few times a week will seriously raise your chances of cavities between teeth.

Liquid sugars tend to be some of the most dangerous for teeth because they flow between your teeth and across all of the grooved areas, which typically don’t get cleaned as well.

Drink Water After Alcoholic Beverages

Rinsing with water after drinking alcohol is a good way to help hydrate and freshen your mouth. Water helps rinse the sugar and acid alcohol can leave behind on your teeth. It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, not just after drinking alcohol, as water intake also lowers your risks of xerostomia.

Even if you’re not thirsty, rinsing your mouth with water regularly is beneficial after eating or drinking anything sweet. But having a glass of water with your drink will also help prevent you from becoming dehydrated, over-indulging, or developing a hangover the next day. In fact, the last thing you want to do immediately after drinking alcohol or anything with sugar in it is to brush your teeth; you need to let the acids in your mouth stabilize for about 30 minutes before scrubbing over them with a brush. But rinsing with water is safe and effective!

Schedule Regular Dental Continued Care Appointment

Scheduling regular continued care appointment and dental cleanings at Paradise Dental Associates will help you keep your teeth and gums healthier, longer. Yes, even if you indulge in alcohol now and then. By screening for issues like dry mouth, enamel erosion, and decay frequently, our Salem dentists can help you intercept issues while they’re still reversible or easier to treat. Fluoride treatments and minimally invasive dental fillings are great ways to preserve as much healthy tooth structure as possible.

If it’s been six months or longer since your last dental exam, call our Salem dental office today to request an appointment.

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