Is Alcohol Bad For Your Teeth?

“Dear Doctor,

My name is Phillip and I am a musician. I play in a Blues Band, and have a regular club I play at every Wednesday, and I also tour for between 4 and 6 months. During these times, I drink a fair bit of booze. We are not a big band you see, and so we drink with the locals, whenever they offer as a sign of respect that they came out to see us. My teeth are quite horrid, but I am British, smoke regularly, drink coffee and eat sweets, besides the booze. I am trying to sort out my life currently, and am wondering how bad is alcohol for your teeth really? I am already trying to quit smoking and am eating far less sugar, and I am wondering how much of an improvement quitting alcohol can be to my mouth.

Thanks in advance,



Dear Phil,

I am sad to say that drinking alcohol is bad for your teeth. Alcohol dissolves the minerals your teeth are made of, and as such is necessarily a bad thing. The consumption of alcohol also dries out the mucus membranes, which cause gum disease and weaker resistance to bacteria, meaning if you drink heavily, you are more likely to have gum disease and tooth loss as well. But the real problem with alcoholism, or habitual drinking from a dental point of view is not even the effects of alcohol on the teeth. Alcohol affects your entire life, meaning your gastric system, your skin, bones and even your central nervous system, and this i where we have problems. If you drink habitually, you may not do other things, such as upkeep a strict regimen of oral hygiene (ever tried to floss drunk?). Now, when you say you drink for 4-6 months every year plus every wednesday, does this mean you have a beer maybe a shot, or do you get falling down drunk? Obviously one is more destructive than the other, and the former situation may not even require special attention and cannot rightfully be considered a risk factor.

Smoking on the other hand, will definitely make your teeth rot, not to mention shrivel your gums and give you oropharyngeal cancer. If you drink all the time, you may still develop oral cancer, but if you drink in moderation, there is no risk factor associated with it. The combined effects of smoking and drinking will however lead to oropharyngeal cancer, necessarily, unless something else doesn’t get you first.

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