Key Takeaways

  • The sugar and naturally occurring acid in alcoholic beverages can wear down tooth enamel.
  • Chewing on the ice cubes in your beverages can crack your teeth.
  • The chances of developing oral cancer increase with the amount of alcohol consumed,

Did you know alcohol has naturally occurring sugars and acids? These can become even more intense if more sugar is added to lessen the bitterness of alcohol or if the drink is carbonated, like with beer, cider and champagne. All of these things can be damaging to your mouth, especially if too much is consumed. Here’s how:

Mixers like sugary pop, syrups or juice are usually used with hard alcohol to dilute it and make it taste better. Problem is, that’s extra sugar your teeth don’t need and the sugar breaks down into cavity-causing acids.

Carbonation in champagne, beer and ciders can also damage your teeth because of the acid created when carbon dioxide is mixed with water to create bubbles. It’s those little bubbles that can wear down tooth enamel.

Tooth stains can happen with red wines and even dark beers. Dental work like crowns and veneers are also more vulnerable to staining.

Dry mouth. Drinks that have a high alcohol content, like spirits, can lead to a decrease in saliva. That means the bacteria on your teeth aren’t washed away, increasing your risk of tooth decay.

Oral cancer is a big risk for heavy drinkers. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the chances of developing oral cancer increase with the amount of alcohol consumed, and smoking while drinking increases the risk of developing oral cancer more than using either one alone.

Tips to protect your teeth

  • Swish with some flat water after you have an alcoholic drink. This will help rinse your mouth of cavity-causing sugars and acids and it will help keep you hydrated.
  • Chew on sugarless gum or snack on cheese to stimulate saliva flow which will also help rinse your teeth of sugar and acids and prevent dry mouth.

Get help with problematic substance use

If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, talk to your doctor or visit the Government of Canada website for more information.

Get help here