Substance Use

Is Alcohol Bad For Your Teeth?

young woman drinking alcohol with ice tooth pain

Is Drinking Alcohol Bad for Your Teeth?

It’s not a mystery that drinking too much alcohol can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.

Overindulging can increase your risk of developing a dependency on alcohol. When this happens, it’s difficult to control the amount of alcohol you drink.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with an alcohol substance abuse disorder, you may have experienced the negative effects of alcohol. One of the most common, but often overlooked, effects of alcohol on the body involves your teeth.

Here’s how alcohol could be bad for your teeth and impact your oral health.

Are you or someone you care about affected by alcohol abuse? At Zinnia Healing, we can help. Call us at (855) 430-9439 for information about our unique range of therapies for substance use disorders.

Why Is Alcohol Bad For Your Teeth?

1. Alcohol Has a High Sugar Content

Various alcoholic drinks contain high levels of sugar (glucose and fructose). Sugar is added to sweeten flavor and improve taste. Mixed drinks often include fruit juices or mixers that are full of sugar, a type of carbohydrate.

The amount of carbohydrates in alcohol varies widely:

  • Beer: 5 to 13 grams
  • Wine: trace amounts to 30 grams
  • Sparkling wine: 4 to 12 grams
  • Dessert wine: 2 to 18 grams
  • Distilled spirits: trace amounts
  • Cocktails: trace amounts to 29 grams
  • Shooters: 2 to 19 grams

Unfortunately, the sugar in alcoholic beverages is bad for your teeth. Research studies have found evidence that high alcohol consumption can affect teeth due to sugar content

Too much sugar leads to a higher incidence of the following:

  • Higher risk of cavities – decay that causes holes in teeth
  • Calculus (plaque) on teeth – a hard film that builds up on teeth and contains bad bacteria
  • Apical lesions – inflamed tissue surrounding the roots of teeth

Untreated damage to teeth can cause unsightly teeth, bad breath, and tooth pain. In severe cases, you can experience tooth loss caused by cavities and gum disease (periodontal disease).

Related Reading: 5 Things You May Not Know About the Nonalcoholic Beer Industry

2. Alcohol Disrupts the Production of Saliva

Excess alcohol consumption can cause dehydration in your body. That’s why drinking alcohol gives you dry mouth—because your body is producing less saliva.

Saliva serves several purposes, including oral hygiene, lubrication, tasting, chewing, swallowing, digestion, wound healing, and protection against microbes (e.g., bacteria, viruses, and fungi).

When saliva decreases from drinking alcohol, it can lead to poor oral hygiene and other health concerns.

Alcohol-induced disruptions to saliva production can increase the risk of adverse health conditions, including:

  • Oral candidiasis (thrush)
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Respiratory infections

Related Reading: 10 Most Common Barriers To Seeking Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

Like many people tend to avoid the dentist, you may hesitate to get treatment for your drinking habit. At Zinnia Healing, we make it easy to get the help you need. Search our locations to find a rehab facility near you. 

3. Alcohol Contains Dyes

When you think of stained teeth, most people think about daily coffee drinkers. It may surprise you to know that alcohol can stain your teeth as well—and this isn’t limited to people with alcohol addiction. Many beverages contain chromogens.

Chromogens are substances added to beverages to give them their characteristic coloring. These chemicals can also cause tooth stains.

Alcohol-containing chromogens can lead to varied levels of tooth discoloration:

  • Red wine – high amounts of tooth staining
  • Lager beer – significant amounts of tooth staining
  • White wine – no tooth staining

Although it’s not harmful to your health to ingest chromogens, the dye can leave your teeth more vulnerable.

When you drink, the acids in alcohol strip away your tooth enamel. This gives the chromagens a chance to bind to the teeth, making it more difficult to make teeth whiter by simply brushing with teeth-whitening toothpaste.

Short-Term and Long-Term Risks of Alcohol

Poor dental health isn’t the only negative side effect of alcohol. Sadly, between 2015 and 2019, 140,000 Americans died from excess alcohol use. In fact, those who died had their lives shortened by an average of 26 years.

In addition to poor oral health, there are many other short-term and long-term risks of heavy drinking.

Short-Term Risks of Alcohol Abuse:

  • Injuries
  • Violence
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)

Long-Term Risks of Alcohol Abuse:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Cancer 
  • Weak immune system
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Social problems

The best way to avoid serious health issues is to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. This can be easier said than done when you develop alcohol dependence, so it’s crucial to seek help through treatment programs.

Signs You Have Alcohol Use Disorder

It may not be apparent that you or someone you’re close to has a dependency on alcohol. The effects of heavy drinking vary from individual to individual. 

Common signs that you have an alcohol use disorder include:

  • You tend to drink more and longer
  • You’ve tried to reduce or stop drinking, but you can’t
  • Your drinking interferes with taking care of your responsibilities
  • You’ve found yourself in dangerous situations while drinking
  • You continue to drink even if it makes you feel depressed
  • You’ve experienced withdrawals symptoms after not having a drink for a while

Frequent and long-term use increases the risk of substance abuse and the physical and mental health consequences. That’s why it’s crucial to get treatment today.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction is Just a Click Away

Substance abuse has many detrimental effects on the body and mind, so it can be hard to recognize them. While bad teeth are commonly associated with people who use prescription and illicit drugs like methamphetamine (meth), alcohol is no exception.

Alcoholic beverages contain high sugar levels, disrupt saliva production, and contain dyes, all of which can lead to stains, damaged teeth, and poor dental health. If you cherish your pearly white teeth, limiting what and how much you drink can help.

Alcohol use disorder doesn’t have to be a condition you struggle with for the rest of your life. Many treatment programs are available, whether you need to go through detoxrehab, or another process. Taking that first step to recovery is the only way to begin.

If you need help managing your dependence on alcohol, we have an alcoholism hotline available 24 hours per day. Contact us at (855) 430-9439 to get started on your recovery.

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