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Does Alcohol Affect My Smile?

Why worry about a beer or 2 at a summer picnic? Of course, limited alcohol consumption is no cause for concern. However, taken to excess, those glasses of beer or wine or shots of whiskey damage personal behavior, motor skills, memory, liver function and digestion.Alcohol

But what role does alcohol play in the health of your smile? Dr. Angela Toy, your Newberg, OR dentist, tells her patients that alcohol in excess amounts is detrimental to the health of your teeth and gums. And gum heath is impacted the most.

Alcohol and Your Gums

The American Academy of Periodontology states the obvious: people who drink too much don't take care of their physical health. Simply translated, they just don't brush and floss as frequently and thoroughly as they should. Plaque forms from food they eat and the high sugar alcohol they consume. Increased tooth decay and especially gum disease result as gums inflame from accumulated plaque and tartar.

Additionally, alcohol naturally dries the mouth (xerostomia), and when saliva and its beneficial enzymes decrease, plaque sticks to enamel and gums. Again, gingivitis and its more difficult relative, periodontitis, occur and lead to tooth mobility, tooth loss and systemic diseases such as stroke, heart attack and diabetes, among others. So, not only your smile suffers, but your overall well-being does, too.

Oral Cancer

The Oral Cancer Foundation states that doctors and dentists find and diagnose more than 48,000 new cases of oral cancer annually in the United States. While smoking appears to be the biggest cause, alcohol paired with cigarettes increases the likelihood of contracting this potentially deadly disease. In fact, the Foundation says that the risk of oral cancer increases by 6 times in people who drink alcohol to excess, whether they smoke or don't smoke.

Cosmetic Issues

Alcohol consumption leads to bad breath, too. Plus, it has cosmetic effects. Red wine deeply stains tooth enamel, darkening it by several shades of color. Your Newburg dentist recommends brushing or at least rinsing the mouth with water after drinking red wine and other staining foods and beverages.

Red wine stains, say dental researchers, because of pigment-carrying molecules called chromogens. Red wine has a lot of them, and they get caught in tooth enamel, particularly when that enamel is covered in plaque. Also, molecules called tannins in red wine dry the mouth. Finally, wine is acidic. Acid erodes enamel. Cavities result and so does the yellow, dull appearance of a worn out smile.

What to Do

Your Newburg, OR dentist asks you to be sensible about your alcohol consumption. She encourages twice daily brushing and daily flossing and semi-annual exams and cleanings at Arbor Hills Dental. Many factors influence the health and appearance of your smile. Dr. Toy and her staff are committed to keeping both vibrant and long-lasting. Call (503) 538-2143 to arrange your routine appointment.

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