Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation is somewhat of a social norm these days. Even the professionals have stated that it’s perfectly okay to consume alcohol as long as it’s done in moderation. The problem is, most people aren’t real clear on what moderation is exactly. It’s a lot less than what you may think.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider moderation one drink a day for an average woman and two drinks each day for an average man the limit. Anything that goes above that is labeled as “heavy drinking.” It is when the risk factors for certain health issues, including problems with your mouth, increase.
Severe Medical Issues
Some think that there is no direct connection between drinking alcohol and oral health. The truth is, abuse of alcohol is the second most common factor for developing oral cancer according to the researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you drink and smoke at the same time, that risk for oral cancer is six times more likely than if you did just one or the other.
In addition to that, people that have been dependent on alcohol for any length of time are more likely to have higher levels of plaque. They are also three times as likely to deal with some kind of permanent tooth loss over the course of their lives.
It Causes Stains
Alcohol is an acidic drink. The color of your drinks comes from something called chromogens. These chromogens stick to the enamel of the teeth when it passes through the mouth. That means if you’re drinking the darker versions of beer, you’re going to be more susceptible to stains from the malts and barley.
Red wines are also known for staining the teeth. If adequately tended too, the stains will only be temporary. Brushing about a half hour after consumption of the wine helps to eliminate the color. Chewing gum afterward is also helpful as it brings the pH levels back to normal and gets saliva flowing as it should again.
Alcohol Dries Out Your Mouth
Your mouth naturally produces the saliva that is necessary to keep your teeth and gums moist. When you drink beverages that are high in alcohol content, it dries out that saliva and your mouth. The result is bad breath instantly. It also increases the chances for cavities in the future. With the absent saliva, there is no natural cleaning of the bacteria and plaque from the surface of the teeth.
In fact, the drier conditions are the perfect spot for bacteria to grow and multiply. The longer you drink, the longer the mouth is going to remain dry increasing the amount of bacteria growth.
Damage by Association
People that drink, especially those that drink mixed cocktails, tend to have a habit of chewing on ice. That’s something that should never happen as there can be permanent damages from chips and cracks in the teeth.
Some drinks come with lemon or other additional acidic ingredients on top of the alcohol itself. The squeezed juice from one lemon has enough power in the acid to erode away the tooth enamel.
Poor Oral Hygiene
With excessive drinking, you are more apt to vomit. When you throw up, there are potent acids that come up from the stomach and stick to the teeth and fester inside the mouth. If they aren’t cleared away instantly, they are going to eat away at tooth enamel. People that are heavy drinkers are less likely to follow proper oral health protocol. That too increases the chances for cavities with all the bacteria remaining in the mouth.
Protecting your Teeth, Gums, and Mouth
Eliminating alcohol from your life is the only way to prevent the problems associated with it when it comes to your oral health. However, that might not always be a realistic option for some. Instead of continuing on the same path, some steps can be taken to keep the problems from being any worse than what they have to be.
First of all, make sure that you switch out water and alcohol each time you get a beverage. The water will rinse your mouth out and keep it well moisturized. If you can drink your alcohol through a straw, do it. It will prevent the liquid from splashing all over the inside of your whole mouth. Brushing and flossing should always be done regularly, but doing it while consuming alcohol periodically is even more important to keep your mouth healthy.
Finally, be sure to visit a dentist at least every six months for a complete examination. That way if any issues are creeping in, you can have them taken care of right away before they get any worse.
Author Bio – This guest post is written by Peter Jones promoting Thantakit International Dental Center.