Is Alcohol Bad for Teeth?

is alcohol bad for teeth - man and woman drinking alcohol

Is Alcohol Bad for Teeth?

It’s no secret that heavy drinking isn’t healthy, but did you know that alcohol can damage your teeth? From causing weak enamel to dry mouth, alcoholic drinks can have many negative effects on your teeth and gums. Here’s what drinking alcohol can do to your oral health. 

Four Reasons Why Alcohol Is Bad for Your Teeth

1: It’s High in Sugar

While many types of alcohol contain little to no sugar, like beer, vodka, and rum, there are still plenty that are loaded with it. Sugar is terrible for teeth, because the bacteria in your mouth convert it into acids that wear down your tooth enamel. Weak enamel increases your risk of tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, and gum disease. 

Sweet wines like Moscato and mixed drinks like pina coladas are some of the worst culprits. But generally, the sweeter the drink, the higher the sugar content. It’s best to stick to dry wines that contain little sugar, such as Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Beer is also a safer alternative, because it has a lower sugar content than wine. 

2: It’s Too Acidic

Many alcoholic drinks are highly acidic, which means they can cause enamel erosion just like sugary drinks. Sweet wines, beer, and hard seltzers are the most acidic. Hard liquors are less acidic, but, if they are mixed with soda or fruit juice (like a rum and coke or a margarita) they become both sugary and acidic. 

High acidity softens your enamel temporarily, so it’s essential that you wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after you drink alcohol. Brushing too soon will spread the acid around and cause even more enamel damage. However, you should never skip brushing after drinking alcohol—waiting too long lets plaque build up and produce even more acid. 

3: It Can Stain Your Teeth

Dark alcoholic beverages like red wine can stain your teeth any number of colors over time, like red, purple, blue, and gray. You can typically remove these surface stains with a simple whitening treatment, but the staining will only return if you continue to drink dark beverages. 

Alcohol consumption can also cause enamel erosion over time, which turns teeth yellow by exposing the darker color of the dentin inside the tooth. Unfortunately, teeth whitening treatments do not usually work on enamel erosion, because the discoloration lies too deep. You may instead need dental bonding or veneers to brighten your smile and restore the strength of your teeth. 

4: It Dries Out Your Mouth

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes your body get rid of fluids faster than usual. This can quickly lead to mild dehydration, which dries out your mouth. 

Frequent alcohol use can lead to a condition called dry mouth, where your body fails to produce enough saliva. In a dry mouth, bacteria and plaque can build up on teeth more easily, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. 

You can avoid becoming dehydrated when drinking alcohol by taking the following steps: 

  • Consume alcohol in moderation
  • Take it slow—the liver needs about an hour to process one serving of alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water (at least one glass of water per alcoholic beverage)
  • Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks, which can also dehydrate you
  • Eat hydrating foods like fruits, vegetables, and soups

Cosmetic Dental Services in Prescott, Arizona

If your teeth have stains or enamel erosion, we can help restore your smile. At Prescott Dentistry, we offer a full spectrum of cosmetic dental services, including whitening, bonding, and dental veneers. We can also protect your teeth from further damage with preventative care. Give us a call today at 928-445-1660 to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/6/2023). Photo by Nate Johnston on Unsplash