Binge Drinking and Your Teeth

A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls attention to the pervasiveness of binge drinking among adults. According to the study, one in every six American adults binge drink approxiately once per week. These binges include about seven drinks per person on average.party bar-storyblocks - 3047514 640

Binge drinking is defined as "having five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in about two hours." This kind of drinking is most common among those aged 18 to 34. The study also indicated that those with "household incomes of less than $25,000 per year and with less than a high school education consumed many more binge drinks" than those with more education and higher income.

There are many negative outcomes from binge drinking, including:

  • Alcohol impaired driving, one of the leding causes of traffic fatalities in the U.S.
  • Unsafe sex
  • Violent behavior
  • Increased risk of cancer, heart disease, liver failure, and more.

Because these outcomes do not seem to be affecting the number of people binge drinking, let's look at the effect of alcohol on your teeth and gums. How much does oral health, white teeth, and healthy gums matter to you?

  1. Alcohol consumption (especially excessive consumption) can aggravate an existing case of severe periodontal disease (also known as preiodontitis) or raise periodontal disease risk factors.
  2. The acid in many alcoholic beverages damages the enamel of teeth. Weakening the teeth and creating greater opportunity for bacteria and decay to get a foothold is one outcome of subjecting your teeth to the acid in alcohol.
  3. Alcohol abuse is the second leading factor in the appearance of oral cancer. 
  4. Mouth sores are more common among heavy drinkers.
  5. The color of beverages is created by chromogens. They attach to tooth enamel that has been weakened by the acid in alcoholic drinks and stain the teeth. 
  6. Red wine may kill the streptococci bacteria in your mouth, but it will also stain teeth and damage enamel.
  7. Beer will also stain teeth due to the malt and dark barley.
  8. Alcohol dries your mouth. Thus, if you do not drink water between alsoholic drinks, you do not remove the damaginng acid from your mouth.

In our appearance-obsessed society, the thought of ruining your teeth, gums and oral health, and losing your teeth later in life, may be persuasive -- or not. Nevertheless, the damage to one's oral health is yet another negative outcome of binge drinking. Remember: there is only so much your dentist can do to repair the damage.