Hands up if you’re having a ‘Dry January’? Most of us tend to over-indulge over the holidays so January is often a time to cut back, usually in a bid to lose weight or to feel better in ourselves. However, reducing our alcohol intake can also be good for our teeth.
We’re all familiar with the effects of sugary foods on our teeth. Yet dentists say even just one glass of wine a day can dry out our mouths, reduce the calcium in our teeth, and leave us with bad breath. Alcohol is also increasingly associated with mouth cancer.
So what is it that’s so bad?
Most alcoholic drinks are extremely acidic, (white wine is more acidic than red wine) with sparkling beverages at least as acidic as orange juice. As a rule, dry, sparkling wines are the worst of all alcoholic drinks, as the bubbles in them are caused by carbon dioxide, which is acidic. You’d be better picking a less acidic, flat wine over prosecco or champagne.
Artificial carbonated drinks of any kind also pose a threat because manufacturers pump them full of carbonic acid to produce bubbles, which helps soften teeth further. Fruit ciders are often artificially carbonated, so steer clear. Even fizzy water, harmless though it may seem, is very acidic.
2. Sugar Content
Be careful what you add to your alcoholic drink. Mixers can be extremely sugary e.g. lemonade, fruit juices, tonic etc. Sipping on sweet drinks throughout the evening fuels the bacteria in your mouth.
The American Dental Association (ADA) warns that one of the often-forgotten side effects of alcohol can be just as damaging to your teeth: dehydration. Alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in saliva flow, so instead of being washed away naturally, bacteria clings to the enamel and increases your risk of tooth decay. This is also why your breathe can smell worse after drinking.
When opting for a heavily coloured alcohol, you can definitely end up with stained teeth. Red wine, sangria and similar drinks with deep hues not only turn your teeth red, but can result in long-lasting discoloration and overall dullness.
If you do happen to have an alcoholic drink (don’t worry we won’t tell anyone), there are things you can do to minimise the effect on your teeth:
- Add plenty of ice to your drink
- Drink water between drinks to help hydration and wash bacteria away (if you can rinse with mouth wash even better) but remember don’t brush your teeth for half an hour after you’ve finished your drink to avoid harming your teeth further.
- Straight whisky or vodka with lots of ice is fairly low on the acid scale. Best of all, mix your spirit with still water.
- Drink your drinks with a straw where possible
- Surprisingly, beer isn’t too bad for teeth, as it has quite a lot of calcium, which encourages hardening of the teeth.