The new year is here – meaning fresh opportunities improve ourselves and our health.
In 2015 a study showed that two-thirds of Britons (64%) invented a new year's resolution. The most common? Losing weight, quitting smoking and giving up alcohol.
With the popularity of the latter, the first month of the year may be known by many as Dry January.
Dry January is a public health campaign that encourages people to stop drinking alcohol for the month. It was introduced by Alcohol Change UK solution to the alcohol problem that has long affected the UK.
In 2017, millions of people participated, with many getting involved for the health benefits.
However, people often forget the impact that alcohol can have on their oral health. From acidity to staining, it can alter the appearance and durability of teeth over time.
Alcohol contains acid, some more than others. Wine is especially acidic, with the most common acids found in being citric acid, tartaric acid and malic acid.
Acid is not good for teeth. When left on the teeth for extended periods of time, it triggers erosion and eats away at the enamel. This results in permanent and irreversible damage.
Acids respond to bacteria in the mouth by creating lactic acid, which further destructs the tooth enamel. When this coating dissolves, your teeth become more susceptible to decay and you may notice a change in colour and experience sensitivity.
Acidic elements cling to the teeth, and if you don't practice good oral hygiene every day, your teeth are vulnerable to damage.
One of the most common causes of tooth decay is sugar consumption. Bacteria thrives on sugar. As they are introduced into our mouth, a chemical process occurs as these two interact to form acids that attack teeth and its enamel.
Various forms of alcohol contain sugar. The sweeter the wine or alcohol tastes, the more sugar it contains.
It may hurt to hear that prosecco is one of the worst. The bubbles result in a double whammy of sugar and acid, which can wreak havoc on your teeth as they are constantly attacked.
This can lead to the demineralisation of the enamel, which is the loss of calcium and other minerals from the tooth.
Healthy enamel should look white – but too many bubbles dissolve the teeth leaving them dull and at risk of crumbling away..
Alcoholic drinks that are deep, dark shades are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the worst culprits for staining teeth. These include beers, red wine, coffee liqueurs and other concentrated beverages.
Stepping away from drinking alcohol, and establishing a tip top oral hygiene routine can better the colour of your teeth.
If you are worried about staining you may benefit from a professional clean or ‘AirFlow’ with a hygienist.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages increased urination. When you pass more fluids, your body becomes dehydrated. As a result, the production of saliva slow, leading to a condition called dry mouth.
This limits the ability to wash away any bacteria in the mouth, which can increase your risk of dental decay and gum disease.
How do I take care of my teeth?
Here are some suggestions on how to minimise enamel erosion and decay:
- Use a straw (avoid plastic ones) for drinks and rinse your mouth with water after drinking
- Keep acids and sugars to meal times only. Aim for no more than three to four sugary/acidic attacks per day
- Sugar-free gum and increase salivary flow, neutralising plaque acids and removing food
Another tip is to opt for products with Xylitol as an ingredient, which can help fight tooth decay.