Think having a few drinks with dinner or going to happy hour is harmless? When done in moderation, it may be; but, when drinking leads to intoxication, your mouth might pay the price. Think about the last time you went to bed three sheets to the wind.
Did you remember to brush and floss your teeth?
Did you sleep well?
Probably not. If getting tipsy is a regular occurrence, that cocktail can turn into an expensive dental visit down the road.
Here are 5 examples of how drinking too much or too often can affect your dental health:
1. Bad habits — After you’ve knocked a few back, it’s easy to forget to brush and floss before bed. By forgoing your nighttime dental routine, you let all that sugar and bacteria sit on your teeth overnight.
2. Weight gain — High amounts of sugar in alcohol is obviously bad for your teeth, but it is also bad for your waistline, which can indirectly affect your mouth. Studies have shown that gum disease may progress more quickly in the presence of higher body fat.
3. Poor sleep — Although you may fall asleep faster after a few drinks, your sleep patterns are interrupted and you don’t sleep as well. A Japanese study has linked lack of sleep with more rapid progression of periodontal disease.
4. Chewing ice — While this may provide a few moments of refreshment between rounds, it can cause severe tooth and gum injuries followed by a painful, expensive visit to your dentist. If ice chewing ever becomes a craving, talk to your dentist right away, because it could signify iron deficiency anemia.
5. Dry mouth — Alcohol dehydrates you, so you wake up tired and cranky with a dry mouth. Saliva is an important part of oral health because it protects the teeth from decay, rinses away food particles and helps prevent infection by controlling bacteria.
Next time you’re out with friends, think about your teeth before downing that fifth, sixth or seventh drink. A harmless night out can leave you with a mouthful of bacteria and a lowered ability to protect your teeth.