Summer is here....kind of, minus all the rain at least where I live anyway. With summer can come increased alcohol consumption....no judging here:) I do want to help you maintain your smile and health of your enamel though! While moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle, alcohol isn’t generally considered healthy. But what are the effects of alcohol on your gums, mouth tissues, and teeth?
Drinks high in alcohol, like spirits, dry the mouth. Saliva keeps teeth moist and helps to remove plaque and bacteria from the tooth’s surface. Try to stay hydrated by drinking water while you drink alcohol.
The acid from lemons, limes or other garnishes increase the acidity of the drink and adding that to the acidity of the mix like pop or soda's can have a dramatic effect on your enamel. Dental professionals agree that even a squeeze of lime/lemon can contribute to erosion of enamel. Constant sipping also starts an acid production that lasts up to 20 minutes and is restarted with each sip! With all this evidence of how hard alcohol consumption is on your enamel try to drink water and or rinse/swish with water in between beverages. As an added bonus this helps with how intoxicated you may or may not get and how you feel the next morning:).
The DL (down low..insert my kids rolling their eyes at my attempt to use a cool acronym lol) on beer. Lets start with Stouts shall we? For those that like the darker beers, they contain roasted malts and barely and have the potential to cause staining of your enamel. Dark beers have a concentrated, dark color that can rub off on teeth causing them to take on a shade of grey, blue or yellow over time.
Some may find it surprising to find out that even beer can be acidic! Along with the prevention methods noted in the previous section, pairing a good beer with snacks that can neutralize the acidity in your beer is a win win. Who doesn't like to have snacks while having a social beverage? Pair your beer with veggies to bring the pH level from 5.5 (level at which erosion can already start:o) to a neutral healthy level for your teeth and your stomach. Sour tasting beers are known for lying more towards the low (acidic) end of the pH scale with a pH sitting in around the 3.2-3.3 mark. Examples of these would be lambics and gueuze.
Always looking for a silver lining, so here it is. The lighter colored beers that consist of un-roasted barley and hops, such as pilsner’s and IPA’s, are loaded with calcium and silicon which can help to strengthen your teeth, bones, hair and nails. Not to be used as permission to consume! Don't start saying your hygienist said to lol!
So as not to be biased towards one type of beverage we will also discuss the staining issue with red wines:(. Its sad but true, everyone has seen the effect red wine can have on someones lips when having a red wine night, so it comes as no surprise that it can stain enamel as well. Surprising to note however, white wine as far as acidity and erosion goes is worse than the reds. Riesling's where found to be the most acidic of them all. It is thought that the tannins in wine may make the enamel more porous, therefore allowing the uptake of staining.
One studyTrusted Source did conclude, however, that red wine kills oral bacteria called streptococci, which are associated with tooth decay. That said, don’t start drinking red wine just for this reason:) there's that silver lining I like so much;). Also don't forget the pairing with foods idea here as well! Cheese goes great with wine and is a great neutralizer for the acidity that accompanies wine. Not related to the teeth but those red lips...try a lip gloss with a petroleum base to create a barrier between the lips and the wine, reapply as needed.
Now that we have explored what alcohol can do to your teeth, what is the effect of alcohol on your gums and other oral tissue you ask?
Well, consumption of alcoholic beverages can have a negative effect on the health of a person’s gums, aggravating an existing case of severe periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis) or raising periodontal disease risk factors. Those with typically healthy gingiva without periodontitis, have in some studies exhibited a higher presence of plaque than their non-drinking counterparts. This is believed to be as a direct result of alcohol's "drying" effect, and may contribute to the formation of plaque, a sticky bacterial layer that is comprised of more than 500 microorganisms that can trigger an inflammatory response in the gums. Alcohol will also slow the production of saliva, therefore decreasing the neutralizing effect saliva has on acids that are produced by the plaque.
Alcohol consumption and the increased risk for oral cancer has been a hot topic in the dental and medical communities for quite sometime now.
So the conclusion concerning alcohol and your teeth is what you ask? Well it is always wise to only do things in moderation...alcohol consumption is no exception to this rule.
Other take away tips are to eat neutral foods like cheese and veggies to combat alcohol's acidity as well as drink, swish and rinse with water frequently while enjoying an alcoholic beverage.
The most obvious take away message is maintain your regular cleanings with Purely Hygiene! I can help protect against all that acid with services offered in the clinic and I most definitely can remove stain and whiten teeth to keep your summer smile bright! Maintenance and regular Dental Hygiene visits are a key element to whole health...we will save that for another blog topic:) Be safe and ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!
INFORMATION REFERENCED FROM:
American Academy of Periodontology (Study: Alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on gum health)