Those of us who enjoy an adult beverage from time to time are, no doubt, privy research that suggests such consumption is, surprisingly – good for us!
Of course, with every endorsement that seems too good to be true, there’s normally a caveat somewhere. With regards to alcohol, it’s that booze simply isn’t great for your oral health.
So, if you’re drinking more to help your heart, you may want to re-think that strategy a bit. Let’s look at why.
Unlike water, which hydrates your mouth and protects it from cavity-causing bacteria and acid, alcohol dries out the mouth. When paired with alcohol’s acidic nature, this drying effect provides the perfect low pH environment for bacteria to feast. And if that weren’t all, because we’re prone to sip alcoholic beverages for hours on end, doing so keeps the pH in our mouths low for hours at a time – not a good scenario for our teeth and gums.
Wine, like coffee, can stain your teeth. In most cases, the staining is temporary. Staining is caused by a number of things, such as acidity, which etches the teeth allowing color to stick. There are also tannins, which love teeth so much they bind to the enamel and trap the wine’s color along with it.
The good thing is, you can keep discoloration at bay by munching on food while drinking, and chewing gum once you’re done consuming for the night. This will bathe your mouth in saliva, and bring your pH back to normal.
Also, as an aside, hold off on brushing your teeth until at least a half hour after you’re done consuming. If done too early, the soft nature of your enamel after drinking can cause unwanted abrasion.
Long term effects
If your alcohol consumption habits are more frequent, and larger than what’s recommended, you should be aware that these effects are compounding. There is a risk of oral cancer.
In fact, if you are prone to combining alcohol with smoking, your oral cancer risk is six times greater than if you just smoked, or just drank.
Scientists believe the effects of alcohol on the mouth enable cancer-causing agents in cigarette smoke greater access to our oral tissues resulting in a favorable environment for cancer to develop.
As is often the case, your health is within your control. Therefore, choosing habits wisely, and being informed of their consequences, is always knowledge worth possessing.
As the sage is known to say: everything in moderation.