The Effects of Alcohol on your Mouth

Have you ever considered the effects alcohol can have on your mouth? Probably not, that’s the last thing on your mind when you’re holding a cold drink after a hard day!

But, have you ever noticed after a night of drinking you can feel the effects of alcohol in your mouth? You may notice your gums and tongue feel dry. This is because alcohol causes dehydration. If alcohol is abused, you may experience other side effects:-

  • Poor healing. Tissue healing becomes impaired. Combined with smoking and/or diabetes and this can make it even worse.
  • Poor oral health habits. An intoxicated person is less likely to brush their teeth or practice other oral hygiene habits.
  • Tooth staining. Dark-coloured drinks can stain the teeth. You should rinse your mouth in between drinking these beverages.
  • Tooth decay increases. People drinking alcohol tend to combine their alcoholic drink with sugary soft drinks or fruit juices naturally high in sugar and acid. This can lead to tooth decay and erosion of the enamel.
  • Vomiting. When alcohol is abused, your body may try to reject it causing you to vomit. This gastric regurgitation contains stomach acid, which is extremely erosive to your enamel.
  • Gum disease. Continuous alcohol abuse increases gum disease.
  • Clenching and grinding. Under the influence of alcohol, a person tends to enter a more aggressive and/or emotional state which can lead to clenching and grinding. This may cause minor tooth fractures, cracks and wear facets.
  • Trauma. An intoxicated person may bite their tongue or cheek, causing ulceration. If you chew the ice in your drinks, you also risk breaking your teeth.
  • Effects on saliva. Alcohol abuse affects the salivary glands and as mentioned earlier, alcohol causes dehydration, meaning saliva is more limited in the mouth. Unfortunately, the less saliva there is, the higher risk of cavities as the saliva helps to neutralise and wash away the sugars that cause tooth decay. You should try to drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks.
  • Oral cancers. Again, alcohol causes dehydration, drying out the cell walls in the oral tissues. When someone abuses alcohol, the carcinogens found in alcohol can penetrate these cells easier, which can lead to the development of cancer. You can read more about this in our Mouth Cancer blog.

Moderation is key to enjoying alcohol. The UK recommended limit is 14 units a week for men and women.


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