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6 Negative Effects of Alcohol On Teeth That You Should Know

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Dr. Andreas

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Written by

Q.F. Nayibe Cubillos Morales

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Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Gustavo Assatourians D.D.S

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What are the effects of alcohol on teeth? This article summarizes the possible effects of alcohol consumption on oral health and offers some tips to prevent its occurrence.

Excessive alcohol consumption is considered a public health problem because it can cause the appearance of multiple diseases, including various oral conditions. 

alcohol-effect-on-teeth

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as more than 14 drinks per week for men and more than 7 drinks per week for women. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 60 million Americans ages 12 and older have reported binge drinking in the past month.

 

What are the Effects of Alcohol on Teeth?

Several studies have shown that alcohol dependence and abuse are associated with an increased risk of oral diseases such as cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis, among others. The most common effects of alcohol on oral health are:

1. Erosion of tooth enamel

Alcohol consumption increases the acidity in the mouth, causing wear on the outermost layer of teeth, the enamel. This is known as dental erosion or enamel hypoplasia. Teeth with this type of erosion have areas that look darker and worn, which makes them more sensitive to changes in temperature and prone to developing cavities, in addition to greatly impairing aesthetics.

Added to this is the acidity that occurs in the mouth when vomiting, which is frequent with intoxication due to excessive alcohol consumption. Additionally, mixing alcoholic beverages with carbonated beverages or citrus fruits, such as lemon, can make tooth enamel erosion even more severe.

2. Dry mouth

Drinks with a high alcohol content decrease the flow of saliva, causing dry mouth. Saliva is essential to protect teeth, aid digestion, and remove plaque and bacteria from tooth surfaces. Decreased saliva flow predisposes the person to the development of cavities, periodontal disease, and bad breath.

effects-of-alcohol-on-teeth

3. Caries and gum disease

The mouth is an environment in which many bacteria, good and bad, live. Several are part of the normal bacterial flora, which is essential for good oral health. When the balance between good and bad bacteria is broken, cavities and gum disease are more likely to result. Alcohol consumption produces changes in the pH of the mouth, damaging the bacterial balance and hurting oral health.

4. Bad breath

Alcohol consumption can cause bad breath for 3 reasons:

 It often causes gagging and acid reflux.

 Salivary flow decreases.

 It damages the bacterial balance in the mouth, leading to cavities and periodontal disease.

Alcohol consumption is considered to be one of the main causes of bad breath. Some studies have especially linked the daily consumption of alcohol with a strong bad odor in the mouth.

5. Stains on teeth

One of the most common effects of alcohol on teeth is stains. Stains on the teeth are produced by chromogens, the substances that give color to food and drinks. The acidity of alcohol deteriorates the enamel surface of the teeth and makes them more sensitive to pigmentation. Alcoholic beverages such as wine, dark beers, or those mixed with dark soft drinks increase the risk of staining your teeth. We have a comprehensive guide about the types of stains and how to remove them safely

6. Increases the risk of oral cancer

Excessive alcohol consumption damages the genetic material of the cells of the mucosa and the tongue, increasing the risk of developing oral cancer. Additionally, if alcohol is combined with tobacco, the risk is much higher. Annually, About 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer. This disease causes more than 9,000 deaths each year. Read our article about the importance of oral cancer screening that will help you prevent this kind of serious complication and to have good oral health.

 

How to Prevent Oral Health Problems caused by Alcohol Consumption?

avoid-drinking-alcohol

1. Drink in moderation.

2. Reduce your consumption of alcoholic beverages as much as possible. This is good for both your oral and general health.

3. Drink enough water to avoid dehydration and reduce dental erosion.

4. Use a straw to drink alcoholic beverages, especially if they are mixed with dark or acidic substances to reduce erosion.

5. Do not brush your teeth immediately after drinking alcoholic beverages or vomiting, as this can promote dental erosion; rinse with water only.

6. Chew sugarless gum to stimulate salivation.

7. Avoid drinking alcohol before going to sleep.

8. Brush your teeth 3 times a day with fluoride cream and floss at least once a day.

9. Visit your dentist regularly to diagnose any oral health condition early.

10. If you notice ulcers, wounds, or abnormal growths in your mouth, see your dentist as soon as possible.

 

Conclusion

 Alcohol consumption, especially when excessive, can have negative implications for dental and general health.

 Alcohol can deteriorate teeth and oral tissues; so it is advisable to limit its consumption and take the aforementioned precautions to reduce its negative effects on oral health.

 Alcohol consumption significantly increases the risk of developing oral cancer, which increases even more if combined with tobacco use.

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References

1. Khocht, A., Schleifer, S. J., Janal, M. N., & Keller, S. (2009). Dental care and oral disease in alcohol-dependent persons. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 37(2), 214–218. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2008.11.009

2. Suzuki, N., Yoneda, M., Naito, T., Iwamoto, T., Yamada, K., Hisama, K., Okada, I., & Hirofuji, T. (2009). The relationship between alcohol consumption and oral malodor. International dental journal, 59(1), 31–34.

3. Hampelska, K., Jaworska, M. M., Babalska, Z. Ł., & Karpiński, T. M. (2020). The Role of Oral Microbiota in Intra-Oral Halitosis.Journal of clinical medicine, 9(8), 2484. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9082484

4. Alcohol use in the United States: Age groups and demographic characteristics. (2023). Nih.gov. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/alcohol-use-united-states-age-groups-and-demographic-characteristics

5. Carey, E. (Nov 13, 2017).What does alcohol do to your teeth? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/what-does-alcohol-do-to-your-teeth

6. Dds, G. A. (Jun 4, 2021). Effects of Alcohol on the Teeth 4 Reasons to stop drink more. Channel Islands Family Dental Office. https://cidentist.com/effects-of-alcohol-on-the-teeth/

7. Glossary. . . . (2023). Nih.gOin. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/glossary

8. Oral cancer facts. (2002). Dentistry Today, 21(11), 74. https://oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/

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