Healthy Living > How to look after your teeth > 7 reasons why Sober October could help your oral health
|Blog Article|||||By Simplyhealth||4 October 2021|
If you’re thinking about, or are already in the process of, cutting out the alcohol, you’ll already be aware of the great benefits it can have on your health, wellbeing and your pocket!
But there’s another area that’s often overlooked - your oral health! Is beer bad for your teeth? Does a gin & tonic cause decay? Read on to find some great reasons why binning the booze can keep you smiling.
Many alcoholic drinks are acidic and sugary, which are two things that can have a significant impact on tooth enamel, which is the protective outer white layer on our teeth. The enamel is softer after being exposed to acid and can wear away over time. Swapping mixers (which can be high in sugar and are acidic) for diet alternatives or soda water, and opting for a straw to reduce exposure to the acids, are easy ways to help look after your teeth and gums.
We know that having alcohol dehydrates the body, which means that there is reduced saliva flow in our mouths. Saliva is important because it protects our teeth from decay by neutralising the acids; so if your mouth is dry, you are at a higher risk of tooth decay. If you know you’re off out to a party or having a few drinks with friends and family, it’s a good idea to alternate your alcoholic drink with a glass of water to help keep hydrated. Having a piece of sugar-free chewing gum too, especially one that contains xylitol which inhibits bacteria forming, is a good way to stimulate saliva.
There is a risk that if you are regularly drinking alcohol and not looking after your oral hygiene, the build-up of plaque will cause inflammation in the gums. With frequent brushing (twice a day, for two minutes) and seeing your dentist or hygienist regularly, you can help prevent a build-up of plaque and minimise the risk of gum disease.
Having the odd glass of alcohol every now and then can be part of a balanced lifestyle; however, binge drinking, especially spirits, can greatly increase the risk of mouth cancer. Drinking alcohol to excess is linked to around a third (34%) of all mouth cancers. Mouth cancer is devastating and is one of the few cancers that is actually on the increase with over 7,000 cases diagnosed each year. And for anyone who smokes as well as drinks, the chances of developing the disease are a whopping 30 times more likely.*
Not limited to alcohol, dark coloured drinks such as, cola, coffee and tea can stain your teeth over time. A whitening toothpaste can help to keep minor staining under control, and regular visits to your hygienist can help to remove stubborn surface stains.
There is no delicate way of putting it, but if drinking alcohol makes you vomit, the acids are corrosive on tooth enamel. So, afterwards it is a good idea to drink some water and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. That way, you minimise any damage to the enamel, which will be softer after those acids!
It is very easy to be less diligent about brushing teeth if you’re feeling the worse for wear, either at the end of the night or the morning after, but it is really important to maintain a good oral health routine. The fact remains that only through regular brushing and flossing, and making sure your visit your dentist and/or hygienist frequently (for many people this is about once every six months) are the best ways to maintain good oral health. Even if we still like a drink or two!
If you have any questions or concerns about alcohol consumption and your oral health, do talk to your dentist.
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