The Effects of Alcohol on Teeth
It's common to indulge in a libation or two to celebrate St. Patrick's Day – but will your smile feel the effects the next day? Here are a few ways to combat potential oral health issues while raising your glass to the Irish.
Drinks containing spirits are especially drying to the mouth. A lack of saliva means food particles and plaque can stick to teeth longer than usual, potentially resulting in more cavities. Anytime you imbibe, especially liquor, offset the drying effects by drinking water throughout the evening.
Skip the “twist.”
Many martinis come with a garnish or a squirt of lemon or lime to bring out the flavors of the drink. Even a “squeeze” of lemon contains enough acid to harm tooth enamel, according to the American Dental Association, so it may be best to try a drink with a different garnish (olives are good!).
Don't go to the dark side.
Red wine – and green beer – can stain teeth. If you have a drink that's dyed or naturally dark, be sure to swish with water afterward. Though you may feel the urge to brush, it's best not to do so immediately afterward: Acidic drinks can make tooth enamel soft, so brushing after enjoying a drink will likely do more harm than good.
The bottom line: One night of celebrating probably isn't going to cause tooth decay or damage. Just make sure it doesn't become a habit, and remember to maintain good oral health habits like regular brushing and flossing.