We’ve all had that kind of week. The kind of week where first thing Monday morning you spill a cup of coffee on your crisp, clean white dress shirt. You change, get to your office late and your administrative assistant tells you the copy AND fax machines are broken. The week continues in that pattern until it is 5 p.m. on Friday night and the first thing coming out of your mouth is “What a week. I need a drink.”
Heading to the bar to blow off steam is nothing new.
Happy hour is a great way to network and build relationships as well as blow off some steam. However, alcohol consumption, especially in larger amounts, not only affects our overall health but our oral health as well.
So how can alcohol damage your smile? The sugar in alcoholic drinks combines with natural bacteria in the mouth to form an acid, which attacks and breaks down enamel. This is especially true when teeth are constantly exposed to the sugars and starches in alcohol without a break.
But it doesn’t end there. Like smoking, alcohol also dries your mouth which decreases saliva. Saliva is a powerful tool in reducing the incidence of cavities by washing away harmful bacteria. Dry mouth can accelerate the damage caused by the sugar in alcohol.
For heavy drinkers, the probability of damage from drinking is much higher. In fact, people with alcohol abuse problems are at greater risk of developing cancer in the mouth, throat and esophagus. Heavy drinking can cause:
- Irritation of the gums, tongue and oral tissues
- Poor healing after dental surgery
- Poor dental health habits
- Increase in tooth decay
- Increased risk for periodontal (gum) disease
- Increased risk for oral cancer
Don’t let Jose, Jack and Johnnie ruin your teeth. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum and brush and floss once you leave the bar to help keep your smile healthy for all future happy hours.