Having a beer every now and then is fine, but what if you end up drinking it more regularly? Is beer bad for your teeth? And how does alcohol affect your oral health? These are all valid questions, and getting the answers is necessary if you’re hoping to improve your diet to better support the strength of your teeth and gums.
How Alcohol Affects Your Oral Health
Drinking alcohol doesn’t only affect your liver; it can also have a negative impact on the health of your mouth. Here are some of the main ways that alcohol adversely impacts your oral health:
It may make you more susceptible to gum disease, or make existing gum disease worse. And the more you drink, the greater the odds of suffering from periodontitis.
Because alcohol has a dehydrating effect in the mouth (it causes a slowdown in saliva production), drinking too much of it might also boost the formation of plaque, which can then further irritate the gums.
The acid in alcohol can erode the enamel of your teeth, weakening them and making them appear yellow. Beyond that, the alcohol itself can stain your teeth as well, especially if it has a darker color, such as red wine.
Drinking too much alcohol may increase your risk of losing your teeth. What’s even scarier than that, though, is that alcohol abuse may even boost your risk of developing oral cancer.
Beer: Just Another Alcoholic Beverage That Could Do Damage
Drinking even a moderate amount of alcohol may have damaging effects on the teeth and gums. And that includes beer. So, if you thought that beer isn’t as bad as, say, hard liquor or wine, think again.
Enamel loss: You want to keep your enamel as strong as possible as you age. This is the tough outer layer of your teeth that forms a protective shield. When your enamel is worn away by acidic foods and drinks, including beer, you might begin noticing that your teeth are more sensitive than they used to be, and your teeth might even become more susceptible to decay. Darker beers, as well as sour beers, tend to be more acidic than lighter beers.
Side note: Do you like adding some citrus to your beer, like a bit of orange or lemon? Well, you might want to reconsider. By adding citrus, you’re making the beer even more acidic and, therefore, more damaging to your precious enamel.
Teeth stains: If you thought that drinking a beer instead of red wine might get you off the hook when it comes to teeth stains, you might be disappointed to learn that this isn’t true. Remember, beer is acidic, so it can wear away your enamel, and that may make your teeth look more yellow. Also, darker beers, artificially colored beers, and beers that are made with fruit can lead to some serious staining of your teeth. And the more often you drink beer, the more likely it’ll be that you’ll start to notice unsightly brown or yellow stains on your once pearly whites.
Good News: You Don’t Have to Give Up Beer Completely!
Just because beer, like alcoholic beverages in general, can be damaging to the teeth and gums doesn’t mean you have to give it up entirely. Instead, reducing the amount of beer that you drink can be a good place to start. And when you do drink, take some smart steps to help undo the damage:
Alternate between drinking the beer and drinking some water. The water will help rehydrate your mouth, and it may help wash away some of the acid that the beer is exposing your mouth to.
In addition to drinking water, you can also try having a mint or some sugar-free gum to help boost the flow of saliva in your mouth when you’re done drinking your beer.
Be sure to brush and floss after you drink beer. You might be tempted to hit the sack after unwinding at night with a cold beer, but do your best to stick to your oral hygiene routine to keep your teeth and gums clean.
Finally, make it a point to see your dentist on a regular basis for a thorough checkup and professional cleaning. And if you have been drinking a lot, let your dentist know so that he or she can look for signs of damage caused by alcohol.
Pro tip: With the right dental insurance, like the plans available from Spirit, you can rest assured that you won’t have to break the bank just to see your dentist throughout the year.
Like all things in life, it’s about moderation when it comes to drinking beer. Too much can do quite a bit of damage to your oral health, but being aware of the risks and taking steps to protect your chompers will allow you to enjoy your brew guilt-free.
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This information is provided by Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. (Ameritas Life). Individual dental, vision and hearing care products (Indiv. 9000 Rev. 02-19), and vision policy form (Indiv. 9000 Rev. 02-19 V, dates may vary by state) are issued by Ameritas Life. Some plan designs are not available in all areas. This piece is not for use in New Mexico. In Texas, our dental network and plans are referred to as the Ameritas Dental Network. Some states require that producers be appointed with Ameritas Life before soliciting its products.