With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you might be excited to down a pint or two of beer – or your other alcoholic beverage of choice – to celebrate the holiday. For those happy Irish who are planning on a week-long St. Patrick’s Day party, the probability of damage to your teeth is much higher!
Research shows that emergency visits to the dentist jump by 64 percent across the United States on March 18th. And no, this is not because America has the most Irish residents. And it may seem like an extreme stereotype to assume that people get drunk on St. Patrick’s Day, to the point, that they’d be in bar fights and knock each other’s teeth out, but it’s true – oh yes, it’s true.
Americans consume an average of 4 alcoholic drinks per week so overloading the system without proper awareness and precautions can have a detrimental impact on your oral hygiene.
How Can Alcohol Hurt Your Teeth?
It can have severe and long-lasting effects on your teeth including:
- Irritates all the soft tissue in the mouth;
- Decreases the amount of natural saliva;
- Corrodes gums, cheeks, and skin;
- Creates higher levels of tooth plaque;
- More permanent tooth decay and loss;
- Periodontal disease;
- Higher risk of cancer in mouth, throat, and esophagus;
- Possible links to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Keep in mind that in chemistry, alcohol is used as a drying agent and to no surprise, it has the same effect on your mouth. This is without even adding the high sugar level that most alcoholic drinks contain.
When these sugars combine with the natural bacteria in the mouth, they produce a harmful acid that eats at your enamel and soft tissue. Because of this effect, it is crucial that you brush and floss your teeth 20 minutes after consuming your drinks so that your saliva has time to re-mineralize the enamel from the acid.
Also, remember that like all guilty pleasures, moderation is key! Whether it is a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of liquor, it is important to moderate all alcoholic intake to protect your teeth. For women, this means maximum one drink a day and for men, two drinks a day.
So before you partake in St. Patrick’s Day festivities, avoid these destructive side effects of heavy drinking…your pearly whites will thank you! And they’ll thank you even more if you schedule a tooth cleaning after St. Patrick’s Day!