There are certain times, events and special occasions during the year when any number of individuals decide to go temporarily ‘dry’. Or in other words, they give up alcohol entirely for a fixed period of time. Of course, it’s not as if most of these people then go on to quit for life, but even if the result is just a temporary detox and an overall reduction in alcohol consumption, it can only be a good thing!
As far as the benefits of cutting down on alcohol are concerned, there are certain examples that are more commonly acknowledged than others. For example, cutting alcohol out completely will of course lead to considerable financial savings, the beauty of never having to worry about a hangover again and generally doing wonders for your health in various ways. It also means eliminating the prospect of making a fool of yourself after one too many!
But at the same time, there are additional benefits to quitting alcohol that go above and beyond the obvious. Believe it or not, anyone looking to take better care of their oral health could definitely do with considering cutting down, or perhaps even eliminating alcohol altogether.
Even if just for a temporary period of time, it could still be beneficial.
So while many of the benefits of quitting alcohol are widely acknowledged and understood, just how can oral health benefit likewise by cutting alcohol out of the equation?
- Less acid erosion
First of all, most people genuinely do not realise exactly how much sugar and acid there is in the average alcoholic drink. The exact levels of both sugar and acid will of course differ significantly from one drink to the next, but drinking alcohol inherently means putting the kind of stuff in your mouth that isn’t good for your teeth. While there is definitely much to be said for switching to sugar-free mixers, for example, even drinks that don’t contain sugar at all often contain an elevated level of acid. The more acid and sugar you consume, the more it gets to work destroying the enamel on your teeth. Which is, suffice to say, never a good thing.
- Dehydration can cause tooth decay
One of the worst offenders of all when it comes to a wide variety of oral health problems is simple dehydration. The reason being that dehydration leads to dry mouth, which is the result of insufficient saliva been produced. And when insufficient saliva is produced, the mouth no longer has the natural defences it needs to protect it against…well, pretty much everything! Tooth decay in particular is something that can be accelerated by dehydration, given the way in which there simply isn’t enough saliva in your mouth to protect your teeth from quite literally falling to pieces. And as we all know, alcohol is one of the leading everyday causes of excessive dehydration.
- Gum disease
A variety of studies have linked excessive or prolonged alcohol consumption with a heightened risk of developing gum disease. Exactly why this is the case isn’t fully understood, but it is nonetheless true to say that the more alcohol you consume and the more regularly you consume it, the more likely you are to develop gum disease. It’s worth bearing in mind that gum disease is the number one cause of premature tooth loss, which is something to think about next time you throw caution to the wind and ignore the potential side effects of alcohol consumption.
- Elevated mouth cancer risk
If you simply enjoy the odd glass of wine or beer here and there without getting carried away, most experts agree it probably isn’t going to do you any harm. In fact, there are some who believe drinking in very careful moderation can actually be beneficial. However, the moment you start getting carried away is the moment you automatically increase your likelihood of developing various cancers – including mouth cancer. While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, cases are nonetheless on the increase all over the United Kingdom. And just for the record, those who both drink a fair amount of alcohol and smoke as well are a terrifying 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer than those who abstain from both.
- Teeth staining
There are two reasons why alcohol can be anything but a friend when it comes to keeping your teeth as white and bright as possible. First of all, there’s the way in which drinks like red wine and anything you mix with Cola are doing a number on the whiteness of your teeth. Secondly, there is the way in which the sugars and acids in alcoholic drinks immediately and significantly weaken the surface enamel of the teeth, which can in turn allow stains to penetrate much deeper than they otherwise might. If you are looking to keep tabs on the brightness and whiteness of your teeth, going easy on the alcohol is definitely something you should consider.
While it’s not exactly a pleasant subject to bring up, excessive alcohol consumption can and often does lead to vomiting. Unfortunately, the stomach acids that are expelled during the process can be nothing short of catastrophic to the health of your teeth. If you are drinking to such a point where it is making you physically sick, chances are its effects on your oral health are probably the least of your health concerns!
- Neglecting oral hygiene
Last but not least, evidence suggests that there is a direct correlation between the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption and the respective individual’s likelihood of maintaining positive oral health and hygiene habits. The simple fact of the matter is that if you are inebriated, in any way distracted by alcohol or suffering the after effects thereof, you are inherently more likely to neglect your oral health. It doesn’t seem like a problem to simply put things off or ignore them at the time, but do so for long enough and your teeth, gums, mouth and health in general will definitely pay the price!