Drinking alcohol is well regarded as a normal activity woven into society, which isn't going away anytime soon, despite its known health risks. Although it's well documented that heavy drinking can lead to cancers, stroke and liver disease, its effects to our mouths and teeth are lesser spoken about. ⠀
Gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores are all much more likely for heavy drinkers, and alcohol abuse is the second most common risk factor for oral cancer. People who drink a lot also tend to have higher plaque levels on their teeth and are three times as likely to experience permanent tooth loss. ⠀⠀
Drinking can stain our teeth too. The colour in our drinks comes from chromogens, which attach to tooth enamel that’s been compromised by the acid in alcohol, staining teeth. One way to bypass this is to drink alcoholic drinks with a straw. Aside from the sugar content, dark-coloured soft drink mixers or red wine can stain or discolour the teeth, so remember to rinse your mouth with water between drinks. Beer is acidic just like wine, making our teeth more likely to be stained by the dark barley and malts found in darker beers.
The American Dental Association warns that one of the often forgotten side effects of drinking alcohol can be just as damaging to your teeth: dehydration. Alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in saliva flow, so instead of being washed away naturally, bacteria clings to the enamel and increases your risk of tooth decay.
What do we think? Does more need to be done to warn patients of this damage?