Yep, that’s right. The fourth horseman you might be inviting on those happy hours could be a cavity.
Heading out with friends or coworkers for a drink after work is nothing new. It 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 an alcoholic drink 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 dries your mouth, decreasing saliva, and 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 gum, 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.