As alcohol is not illegal – and is often considered a treat or a sophisticated way to socialise – but we sometimes forget that it can have a damaging effect on our bodies. You may have heard that alcohol does not damage your teeth. In essence this is true in that if you’re drinking 100% alcohol then this won’t damage your teeth. However, drinking pure 100% alcohol would severely damage the rest of your body, which would struggle to metabolise it at all. There are up to five units in just 50ml of 100% pure alcohol so it’s a fast track to alcohol poisoning, which is why alcohol for human consumption is never 100% strength. Beers, bourbon cocktails, a glass of wine or Prosecco contain much less alcohol which makes them appropriate in moderation, but remember that the sugars and acids they contain can have a negative effect on your teeth.
Of course, if you’re abusing alcohol then your teeth will almost certainly suffer. Not only does alcohol abuse lead to poor oral hygiene and the neglect of your teeth that results from being repeatedly drunk but the constant high levels of alcohol can affect you physically too. Consuming alcohol will dry out your mucus membranes and this can negatively impact the tissues that surround your teeth. If these tissues become weakened over time then your teeth may start to fall out. This combined with a lack of oral care, means that alcoholics often find that they lose teeth and that they have to deal with oral infections regularly too.
It’s often difficult to establish whether the level of drinking that you’re doing might be presenting a problem. After all, some cultures positively embrace heavy drinking on a social level and it may be a part of your job. If you are someone who drinks regularly then you don’t necessarily have a problem and you won’t develop dental issues simply as a result of consuming alcohol on a regular basis. However, it’s important to make sure that you know how much alcohol you’re consuming on a weekly basis – when this is added up it can sometimes come as a bit of a surprise. Make sure that your mouth remains lubricated – drink more water – and take care of your teeth i.e. don’t scrimp on the brushing and flossing. Finally, try giving up alcohol for a period of time and see what kind of an effect it has on your day to day. If you find life very difficult to handle without it then it might be worth seeking help, not just for your teeth but for yourself and everyone around you too.