Content reviewed by Dr. Dehrab of Whyte Ave. Dental Choice.
Whether you drink alcohol regularly or only have a drink on special occasions, you may be wondering how it affects your teeth and overall oral health. You might be surprised to learn just how dramatic the effects of these acidic drinks are on your smile.
Luckily, you don’t have to give up your favorite cocktail for your mouth’s sake. Once you learn more about the effects of different drinks on your teeth, you can better understand how to maintain your oral health.
Red wine is well known for the near-instant stains it causes on teeth. And while your favorite glass of merlot can cause a temporary purple grin, it can also stain your teeth long-term. Its tannins create a binding effect that adheres to the bumps and ridges of your teeth, and its acidity can lead to enamel erosion over time.
Unfortunately, white wine isn’t any safer. Whites boast higher acidity levels, which softens the enamel and leaves it more susceptive to decay and discoloration.
Drinks that are high in alcohol like vodka and rum can affect your oral health in several ways. First, their acidity is rough on tooth enamel and can wear the enamel down over time if you drink high-alcohol drinks often. Further, these drinks decrease saliva production. Since saliva is one of your mouth’s primary defenses against bacteria, excessive consumption can damage teeth long-term.
Cocktails, margaritas and other mixed drinks can wreak havoc on your teeth if they’re consumed regularly. These drinks usually contain excessive amounts of sugar, and acidity from additives like cola can damage your teeth even more quickly than if you drank the alcohol on its own.
Beer is perhaps the safest alcohol in terms of your oral health. It features a higher water content than most adult beverages as well as a lower acidity. Some studies even suggest that one of its ingredients could protect against cavities. However, beer’s acidity can still harm teeth if you sip your drink over an extended period.
How to Maintain Your Oral Health
While alcohol does damage teeth, it doesn’t mean you have to give up a night out to protect your smile. You can lessen the effects of acids and tannins with proper preventive care. Some tips for maintaining your oral health while drinking alcohol include the following:
- Sip water while drinking: Swishing water around your mouth occasionally while drinking can mitigate alcohols’ effects. You can also eat while you drink — which acts like a barrier to keep wine from staining your teeth — or chew sugar-free gum.
- Brush and floss regularly: Make sure to brush and floss your teeth both before drinking and on a schedule afterward. Experts recommend brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
- Schedule regular dental cleanings: During regular checkups, dentists remove built-up tartar from the teeth. This cleaning can smooth your enamel, which makes it harder for stains to cling to your teeth.
- Whiten your teeth: If you’re worried about discoloring your smile, you can whiten your teeth using either over-the-counter whitening agents or whiteners provided by your dentist.
Schedule a Dental Visit With Dental Choice
Whether you’d like a regular dental cleaning or want to learn more about options for whitening your teeth after drinking alcohol, Dental Choice may be able to help. We have more than 20 years of experience in patient care and strive to use this experience to develop a proper treatment plan to meet your needs. Request your appointment at one of our Alberta offices to get started.