Alcohol, The Holidays, and Your Oral Health

Man opening bottle with teeth

Holidays can provide great dangers for our dental health, with the endless variety of rich sweet foods available. One often unconsidered risk to our teeth this time of year is alcohol. For many people, the holiday season involves consuming more alcohol than the rest of the year. This increased intake can put your teeth at greater risk of decay, so maintaining your oral hygiene is more important than ever.

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There are several risks that present themselves when consuming alcohol during the rest of the year. The potentially increased intake of the holiday season only increases these risks and makes them more of a concern. Combined with the sugary foods that are available at every turn during this time of year, the following risks come from alcoholic beverages:

  • Sugar Content – The amount of sugar found in most alcoholic drinks can be relatively high. As our oral bacteria thrive on sugar, sweet drinks can pose a severe risk. This may mean you want to reconsider a sugar-rich choice and choose something with a little less sugar in it. Dry champagnes and wines are an excellent low-sugar alternative.
  • Dehydration – Wishful thinking aside, you’re not getting any meaningful hydration from your alcoholic drink. Dehydration can lead to dry mouth, which puts our teeth at additional risk. Saliva plays an essential role in protecting our teeth; in its absence, decay advances faster.
  • Staining – Darkly colored alcohol comes with an additional risk, and that’s potential dental staining. Sangria, red wine, and other darkly colored beverages can dull your teeth and cause lasting discoloration. Whitening toothpaste is usually sufficient to counteract this staining.

There are also the risks of acid damage in the event of overindulgence. If you’ve overindulged to the point that vomiting becomes an issue, the acid involved can cause severe damage to your teeth. This is of particular concern to those with a habit of overindulgence.

Some Final Notes On Drinking Alcohol and Your Oral Health

As with any popular activity, alcohol consumption comes with its share of myths. Some of these myths pertain directly to the effect alcohol has on your teeth. We’re going to take a moment to address some of those below:

  • Beer Doesn’t Stain Your Teeth – Just because most beer doesn’t have a dark rich color doesn’t mean your teeth are safe. While lighter-colored beer does have less of an effect, it’s a combination of the acids in the beer and the malts and barleys that cause staining.
  • Citrus In Your Drink Helps – This is another case of wishful thinking. While citrus in your drink does nothing to prevent them from becoming stained, it can weaken your enamel. Weak enamel is more susceptible to staining.
  • Alcohol Can Prevent Cavities – While some mouthwashes contain alcohol, that isn’t the same experience as drinking an alcoholic beverage. Not only is alcohol potentially more damaging to your teeth, but drinking tends to make the imbiber snack more.
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Dr. Mark Covington with family

Mark and Gina Covington / Husband Wife Practice
The Drs. Covington are proud members of the Hickory, NC community, where they focus on the well-being of their children and their patient family. Dr. Gina and Dr. Mark both graduated from the University of Mississippi Dental school and are now dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care to their patients.

Dr. Mark Covington with family

Mark and Gina Covington / Husband Wife Practice
The Drs. Covington are proud members of the Hickory, NC community, where they focus on the well-being of their children and their patient family. Dr. Gina and Dr. Mark both graduated from the University of Mississippi Dental school and are now dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care to their patients.

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