If you enjoy a rich glass of wine with your dinner, or a nice ale with your friends, you’re not alone. Many alcoholic beverages make a fine compliment to a well-crafted meal, and some, like red wine, even boast heart benefits, as well. But if you think the only problem with having an extra glass or two of Merlot, as far as your smile is concerned, is that it may begin to stain your teeth, think again. Studies indicate that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to oral health problems, particularly when it comes to your gums. So before you pour yourself another glass, understand the potential dangers associated with excessive consumption.
What You Need to Know
You probably already know there are health risks involved with overdoing your alcohol intake. But according to the Journal of Periodontology, regular drinkers are also more likely to have increased plaque buildup, as compared to non-drinkers or those who only partake in alcohol occasionally.
That is because alcohol is known to hinder saliva, which helps to naturally counteract the effects of plaque bacteria. When saliva isn’t present, due to alcohol consumption or simply “dry mouth,” the bacteria are able to feed on sugars in the mouth and create a highly acidic environment, which can lead to plaque buildup, cavities, and also gum disease.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. If detected early and treated, it’s often possible to reverse the symptoms of gingivitis. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can eventually progress to full periodontal disease, which can lead to loosening of the teeth. In fact, gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in America, but it is preventable.
How You Can Protect Your Smile
Staying hydrated, especially when consuming alcohol, is a good step to caring for your gums’ health. So are regular checkups and cleanings, during which your dentist can help remove any plaque buildup present.
But daily brushing and flossing are also crucial in the fight against plaque, as well as a proper, well-balanced diet, which should include fresh fruits and vegetables, which are great for your teeth as well as your body.