Have you taken up the challenge of Dry January this year? You might have decided to avoid alcohol to give your body a welcome break from the excesses of Christmas, but did you know that avoiding the booze also has a great impact on your teeth? Read on to find out how alcohol affects your oral health.
Alcoholic drinks are high in acidity and sugar, particularly when served with fizzy mixers or juices, and drinking regularly can cause tooth decay and acid erosion. Alcohol is dehydrating and reduces saliva flow. This is really damaging, because saliva exists to hydrate your mouth and neutralise harmful acid. If there is less saliva in your mouth, your teeth are more vulnerable to attack.
Lots of alcoholic drinks can cause discolouration and staining on the surfaces of your teeth. Red wine, coffee liqueurs, dark ales, dark spirits and dark mixers are some of the main culprits. Regular drinking worsens this staining and can make it tougher to remove. Not a great look!
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol increases your risk of mouth cancer. In fact, alcohol is linked to just under a third of all mouth cancers. UK guidelines advise that men and women do not exceed a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week. A large glass of wine, for example, is three units. If you’re unsure how to find out how many units you typically drink, there’s a handy guide from the NHS here.
Five tips to give your teeth a helping hand:
- Think beyond Dry January. Have you felt better since giving up the booze? Could you look at cutting down your alcohol intake for the rest of the year too? The less alcohol you drink, the more protected your teeth will be.
- See your dentist regularly. Prevention is better than cure, and your dentist will check for mouth cancer symptoms, assess the health of your teeth and gums, and spot any signs of decay.
- See your hygienist regularly. They will clean and polish your pearly whites, and help to remove staining.
- Maintain a good oral health routine at home. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day.
- If you do drink alcohol, drink through a straw, and alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water. This will help to stimulate saliva flow and reduce the harmful effects of acid and sugar on your teeth.
If you’re seeing a lot of staining on your teeth and would love a brighter, whiter smile for 2021, we offer teeth whitening treatments at Honour Health. If you’ve successfully completed Dry January, this could be a great way to treat yourself! Free consultations are available at our Jesmond, Stanley and Ponteland practices.