Most of us here in Kelowna enjoy the occasional (or frequent) adult beverage. Particularly after a long and arduous day at work. After all, we live in wine country.
Good news is that some alcoholic drinks – red wine especially – have been shown in recent medical studies to promote health.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of evidence out there proving that alcohol can have an adverse effect on our teeth.
When patients come into my Kelowna dentist office and ask how to naturally improve the look of their smile, I often recommend limiting nighttime consumption of alcohol in addition to cutting down on food and drinks that contribute to staining and teeth damage.
How Alcohol Affects Our Teeth: 4 Reasons Why We Should Cut Down
Regularly partaking in adult beverages can have a profound effect on our dental health. Granted, a drink here and there in moderation won’t do much critical damage. But routine consumption can take its toll in these four ways.
1. Alcohol Can Cause Dental Decay and Gum Disease
Alcohol contains sugar. These sugars contribute to plaque build-up and eventually tooth decay. People that are dependent on alcohol often have higher plaque levels than those who don’t imbibe. They’re also three times as likely to experience tooth loss.
Those who have higher plaque build up often suffer from gum disease. Plaque hardens over time, causing the gum and the bone to recede from the teeth. The teeth become loose and most likely will need to be extracted.
Another issue is tooth decay. Sticky plaque is a magnet for the sugar found in alcohol. When the bacteria in our mouth eventually break the “stuck” sugars down, acid will begin to form.
In addition, alcohol dehydrates us. If we’re not drinking water between sips, saliva production becomes limited.
Saliva consists of anti-bacterial properties that buffer the acids cultivated by the bacteria in the mouth. Without this buffer, the acid slowly eats away at the enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Not only can this lead to cavities and getting fillings, but if it’s left unchecked, dental decay can lead to infection and tooth loss.
2. Most Alcohols Are Acidic and Can Contribute to Enamel Erosion
Alcohol tends to be acidic. Like most acidic foods, if we overindulge, the acids start to erode our teeth.
Over time, this erosion can lead to the exposure of the second layer of our teeth. Underneath the enamel is a layer called dentin. The dentin is soft and porous. When cold air, foods, or beverages come into contact with the dentin, it feels almost like an electric shock in the tooth.
Underneath the dentin is the pulp, or nerve. Erosion can become so severe that this layer is eventually exposed. In these cases, root canal treatment or an extraction may be needed.
Another cause of dental erosion is vomiting. If people binge drink (drinking to the point of getting drunk and throwing up) on a regular basis, the acid from the alcohol and the vomit will erode the teeth.
3. Some Alcohols – Red Wine in Particular – Can Stain Teeth
Like coffee, alcohol can stain the teeth. Red wine is the biggest culprit for staining and dullness. But the acid/erosion/plaque that is caused by alcohol in general can lead to staining as well.
4. There’s Also an Oral Cancer Threat
There’s a strong link between head and neck cancers and the overconsumption of alcohol.
How Your Kelowna Dentist Can Repair Damaged Enamel
If you’ve experienced staining or erosion from alcohol consumption, have no fear! As your Kelowna dentist, I can help.
In fact, there are a number of cosmetic and restorative procedures that I’ve been trained to do that can fix these problems.
- Teeth whitening
- Dental bonding
- Custom veneers
- Anti-sensitivity treatments
- Dental crowns
For Beautiful, Healthy Teeth, Monitor Your Alcohol Intake
Like I said before, occasional drinking won’t likely cause dental damage. But if you’re like some individuals that must have a drink every night, the results could be disastrous in the long run.
When patients come to my Kelowna dental office for their routine check-ups, I might ask about their drinking habits if premature dental damage is apparent. This isn’t to police or belittle my patient. My goal is simple: to provide my patients with exceptional dental care. One way I do this is by helping them prevent future problems before they occur.
When it comes to alcohol and oral health, moderation is the key!
Are you suffering from decay, erosion, or stained teeth? Contact our office to schedule an examination. We’ll see what needs to be done and create a unique treatment plan based on your specific dental issues.