Let’s be honest: There are certain times a year when we are more likely to imbibe in drinking an alcoholic beverage or two, and one of them is summertime. Between neighborhood barbecues, family vacations, and even rewarding yourself with a cold beer after some intense lawn work, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate with your favorite beverage. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, I want to make sure you’re informed about how alcohol can affect your dental health. Does the amount you drink matter? Or the type of alcohol?
Bad Bacteria vs. Good Bacteria
Simply stated, research has shown that those who drink have more bad bacteria in their mouths (such as those that cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath) and less good bacteria (such as the lactobacillus that is often used in probiotics). Part of this could be because alcohol dehydrates us as we drink. The good bacteria that prevents disease thrives in a moist environment, so when we induce xerostomia — or dry mouth — we’re altering the tiny ecosystem in our mouths.
An Ounce of Prevention
As always, your best course of action is prevention. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a glass of wine or a margarita, by any means; I’m simply suggesting hydration. For each ounce of alcohol you ingest, drink an ounce of water. Not only will this keep your mouth bacteria balanced, it will keep your body hydrated and minimize the negative effects of over-indulging (such as a hangover). If you’re a fan of mouthwash, then avoid using one that is alcohol-based, particularly after a night of drinking.
With most things, moderation is the key, but whether you have a single beer or a bottle of pinot grigio, hydration just might help you protect your teeth. If you have additional questions about the relationship between alcohol and your teeth or if it’s simply time for your semi-annual appointment, contact my office today to schedule an appointment.
Yours in dental health,