The new year is almost here, and you’re likely planning to greet it by getting together with friends and family. Chances are that the celebration will involve a few alcoholic beverages. But while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink every once in a while, you should be aware of the impact that alcohol can have on your oral health – as well as the steps your dentist might suggest for keeping your smile safe.
Alcohol and Your Oral Health
Many alcoholic beverages, such as wine, are known to be acidic. Consequently, they can weaken the enamel protecting your teeth. Weakened enamel is more prone to damage or decay, meaning you could be at a higher risk for dental problems.
Furthermore, alcohol can slow down the production of saliva in your mouth. This is problematic because saliva plays a critical role in getting rid of the plaque that accumulates on your teeth and gums. A lack of saliva can lead to plaque buildup, which in turn can result in cavities and other oral health issues.
Some alcoholic drinks include sugar as an ingredient. The bacteria in your mouth can feed on sugar and turn it into acids that gradually eat away at your enamel. Additionally, some alcoholic drinks contain citrus, which can further weaken your teeth and increase your overall chances of decay.
Finally, it should be noted that certain alcoholic beverages, such as red wine, can easily end up staining your smile. Plenty of dark-colored beverages can discolor teeth, but red wine is a particularly notorious offender because enamel tends to be more susceptible to staining once alcohol has weakened it.
How to Protect Your Teeth from Alcoholic Drinks
As long as you’re taking the right precautions, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some drinks during the new year. All you need to do is follow these tips for keeping your smile safe:
- Every time you take a sip of your alcoholic beverage, you should drink some water. This will help minimize the risk of your mouth drying out, and it will wash away the acids and sugars that may be lingering on your teeth.
- Make sure that you brush your teeth thoroughly before enjoying any drinks. That way, you can get rid of the plaque which can potentially increase the chances of your teeth becoming stained.
- Schedule a visit to your dentist in the near future so that they can make sure that your teeth and gums are still in good shape.
It always pays to be mindful of how you’re treating your smile. Enjoy celebrating the new year, but make sure you’re taking care of your teeth at the same time.
About the Author
Dr. Sheri McIntosh went to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery. At Distinguished Dental in Fort Worth, she offers a full range of treatments, from basic general dentistry to cosmetic dentistry to restorative dentistry. To schedule a consultation with Dr. McIntosh, visit her website or call (817) 337-8300.