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How Heavy Drinking Affects Your Oral Health

Four Mugs For Beer
Drinking occasionally isn't greatly adverse to your oral health (and health in general), but consuming more than 14–15 drinks a week if you're male or 7–8 drinks a week if you're female can have a negative effect on your teeth.

While heavy drinking is well-known to cause liver damage and other bodily harm, too much alcohol causes the following problems with your oral health as well.


Aesthetically, drinking is not healthy for your teeth. Alcohol, especially dark beers and wine, contains chromogens, which stick to tooth enamel and create deep-set stains that traditional brushing habits may not remove.

To avoid staining your teeth due to heavy alcohol consumption, avoid mixing your alcoholic beverages with dark sodas and juices, and rinse your mouth with water after consumption.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a common oral health issue that heavy drinkers face. While research is still ongoing as to the main link between alcohol consumption and gum disease, one theory is this: drinkers in periodontal studies showed more gaps in their gum pockets where teeth pull away from the gums than nondrinkers.

These gaps allow bacteria and plaque to get deep under the gums, causing gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.

Heavy drinkers are also known to require more periodontal cleaning and other treatments than nondrinkers. If you drink heavily, make appointments with your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and report any signs of gum disease, including bleeding or sore gums, to your dentist.

Dry Mouth

Alcohol dehydrates the body. Dehydration causes your mouth to produce less saliva, therefore making your mouth less able to flush away bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume helps battle dehydration and is healthy for your whole body, including your mouth. Your dentist can also prescribe a special toothpaste or mouthwash to aid in saliva production if you suffer from alcohol-related dry mouth.

Note: dry mouth not only causes tooth decay and discomfort but also causes bad breath.

Tooth Decay

Like sodas and juice (which are not healthy for teeth), alcohol contains high levels of sugar. Sugar consumption, especially on a regular basis, causes tooth decay.

Battle the sugar you consume with your alcoholic beverages by choosing drier drinks that contain less sugar. Continue brushing and flossing your teeth daily to combat tooth decay.

Enamel Loss

The acids in alcohol (including the lemons you place in your drinks) wear away tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is essential for protecting your teeth against infection and decay. While your enamel is extremely strong, once it's worn away, the enamel cannot be fully restored.

Using prescription toothpastes and mouthwashes designed to strengthen tooth enamel is one way your dentist will attack weak tooth enamel due to excessive alcohol consumption. Your dentist can also apply tooth bonding and crowns to strengthen your teeth if they are cracked or damaged by enamel erosion.

Your part in protecting your tooth enamel lies in choosing alcoholic beverages that have less acid in them. You can also combine your drinks with water to lessen their effect on your body and tooth enamel. Also, never chew on ice; ice is damaging to tooth enamel.

In general, overconsumption of alcohol of any kind is bad for your health. Speak to your dentist about your drinking habits so your dental professional can create custom care for your specific dental needs.

Continued dental care will help preserve your natural teeth for as long as possible. Our team of dental experts will provide you with cleanings, gum treatments, enamel restoration, and other treatments to better your oral health. See us at Moana Dental Care, or call and make an appointment today.

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