Jose, Jack, Johnnie and …Tooth Decay?

April 3, 2014

Yep, that’s right. The fourth horseman you might be inviting to your happy hour could be a cavity.

Heading out with friends or coworkers for a drink after work is a great way to network, build relationships and unwind after a busy day. However, alcohol consumption, especially in large amounts, can greatly affect your dental health.

How does alcohol damage your smile?

The sugar in alcoholic drinks combines with natural bacteria in your mouth to form an acid. This acid attacks and breaks down enamel. Longer, more frequent exposure to sugar, like alcohol, causes erosion which can lead to tooth decay.

Alcohol also dries your mouth which decreases saliva. Saliva is your body’s natural defense against tooth decay because it washes away harmful bacteria. Dry mouth can accelerate the damage caused by the sugar in alcohol.

For heavy drinkers, the probability of damage from drinking is much higher. In fact, people with alcohol abuse problems are at greater risk of developing cancer in the mouth, throat and esophagus.

Heavy drinking can cause:

  • Irritation of the gum, tongue and oral tissues
  • Poor healing after dental surgery
  • Poor dental health habits
  • Increase in tooth decay
  • Increased risk for periodontal (gum) disease
  • Increased risk for oral cancer

Don’t let alcohol ruin your teeth. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Rinse your mouth with water or brush and floss once you’ve had a drink to help keep your smile healthy.