Plenty of people like to cut loose with a drink or two, so they naturally tend to believe flattering things about alcohol’s impact on oral health. However, it’s important to know the truth about what these drinks can do to your teeth so that you can prevent their negative effects. In that spirit, here are 3 myths about alcohol and oral health, along with the reasons why they aren’t what they seem.
#1: Drinks Can Wash Out Your Mouth
People might think that mouthwash containing alcohol means it can rinse away plaque. On the contrary, liquor can disrupt the body’s natural cleaning process. Alcohol is dehydrating, which slows the development of saliva in the mouth. This saliva is normally tasked with, among other things, carrying away excess food particles. A dry mouth means a dirty mouth, so be sure to stay hydrated when you drink!
#2: Citrus Can Clean Your Teeth
This one might be related to a common DIY whitening treatment that involves rubbing lemon juice on the teeth. People think that putting a dash of lemon or orange in their drink can brighten their smile. Both things, however, are untrue. Lemon juice won’t whiten your teeth. It will, however, erode your enamel, which can lead to a hot/cold sensitivity. Next time, you can order your gin and tonic without the lime.
#3: Alcohol Can’t Stain Your Teeth
Speaking of acids, most drinks have some in them. Beer and red wine in particular are fairly acidic. They’re also rich in what are called “chromogens,” which is what gives them their dark color. Once the acid begins to erode your teeth, the chromogens have an even easier time attaching themselves to your enamel. If you’re concerned about a drink leaving behind stains, you can try something clear or use a straw to reduce the booze’s contact with your teeth.
There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks. That said, pretending they don’t have any effect on your teeth isn’t helpful. Keep this guide in mind, and you should be able to adjust your drinking habits to minimize the damage to your smile.
About the Author
Dr. Lance Timmerman sees dentistry as an art and takes pride in being able to sculpt the best smiles possible. The advice he gives on how to take care of teeth, along with thorough dental cleanings, keeps all his patient’s pearly whites shining. Dr. Timmerman received his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Oral Health and Sciences University and has earned the title of Master from the Academy of General Dentistry, a distinction held by less than 2% of all dentists. If you have any questions about how best to take care of your teeth, he can be reached at his website or by phone at (206) 241-5533.