Beyond Sober October: How Alcohol Harms Your Teeth

Macmillan has launched Sober October, encouraging people to go alcohol-free for the month to raise money for cancer. The Macmillan website lists some of the many benefits of sobriety, such as a better night’s sleep, weight loss and money saved. We’re here to tell you that giving up alcohol can also be kinder to your smile.

Alcohol: Friend or Foe?

Consuming alcohol can damage your liver, skin and waistline. It also upsets the PH levels in your mouth, disrupting the finely-balanced bacteria that keep it nice and healthy. You may not consider yourself a heavy drinker, but one drink daily is enough to unsettle this environment. So, it is a foe for us, as alcohol harms your teeth in countless ways. This includes cavities, discolouration and gum disease.

Read the rest of this blog to discover why. 

Sugary Mixers:

Alcoholic beverages are usually a composition of spirits mixed with fruit juice or soda. Fruit juices, syrups and sodas all have a high sugar content that disrupts the PH levels. They expose your teeth to higher levels of acidity. The same can be said for sweet white wines and champagne. And let’s not talk about drinks garnished with citrus fruits or that include lemon juice. Increased acidity levels encourage plaque formation, which erodes the tooth enamel. Plaque build-up is the distinctive way alcohol harms your teeth and can cause sensitivity and decay.

Click here to learn more about how sugars can harm your teeth.

Corrosive Spirits:

Alcoholic spirits are corrosive. So, when consumed, they can irritate your gums and cause inflammation. Corrosive spirits can also cause the gum tissue to recede, which is the primary cause of gum disease. Therefore, you must follow a meticulous dental routine if you regularly consume alcohol. Not doing so can result in tooth loss.

Dry Mouth:

You may choose to omit sugary alcoholic beverages from your diet. But, this is not the only way that alcohol harms your teeth.

I’m sure there have been many times when drinking left you feeling dehydrated, and you asked for water. This dehydration can cause an alcohol-induced dry mouth which reduces saliva production. Saliva performs an important function for our oral well-being. It is a natural cleanser that washes away all the bad bacteria and ensures our PH levels are balanced. Without any saliva, bad bacteria remain on the teeth and cause plaque. This can leave your teeth vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.


Let’s not forget about staining. High acidity levels in alcoholic beverages erode the protective enamel on your teeth. Without this protection, it leaves your teeth vulnerable to staining. Avoid dark-coloured drinks like dark beers or those with a high tannin content, such as red wine. These are the biggest culprits for dullness and discolouration.

Final thoughts on how alcohol harms your teeth:

As you can see, there are multiple reasons to avoid alcohol. In some instances, drinking can also cause acid reflux, vomiting or trauma to the mouth. That’s why we dentists believe that alcohol is a foe when it comes to your oral well-being. Going sober for an entire month will benefit your mind, body and bank account; it can also do wonders for your mouth. But, to be kinder to your smile is to abstain from alcohol beyond this time.

Beyond Sober October

If you plan to bring alcohol back into your life once this month is over, here are some tips to avoid harming your teeth.

Limit Alcohol Intake:

As mentioned above, the most promising way to look after your smile is to abstain from alcohol. But reducing the amount you drink by volume and frequency can also make a big difference.

Avoid Sugary Mixers:

When ordering your next drink, stick to ones that are low in sugar, such as a light beer or a gin and tonic. You can also mix spirits with soda water instead of sodas.

Remember to Sip Water:

Drinking alcohol is usually a leisurely activity. This means you slowly sip on it, exposing your mouth to sugars for prolonged periods of time. For this reason, it’s best to sip water between each beverage to rebalance the PH levels and wash away some of the cavity-causing bacteria. Drinking water will also help avoid dehydration, which only exacerbates the damage caused.

Snack Between Drinks:

There’s nothing better than a cheese board with a glass of wine. Eating can increase saliva production, which helps to wash away the leftover sugars. Cheese is also great for neutralising the acidity of a glass of wine, as it adheres to the tooth enamel. This closes up the tiny pores on the tooth’s surface, protecting it from erosion. It is also high in calcium, so it’s always a great snack to eat when considering what’s best for your teeth.

Drink Light-Coloured Beverages:

As we’ve said, alcohol causes discolouration. That’s why you should stick to lighter-coloured beverages that won’t dull your smile. Prefer dark-coloured drinks? Using a straw angled at the back of the mouth is best, as this keeps the liquid from your teeth.

Maintain A Solid Dental Routine:

Brushing your teeth diligently is even more important after a night out. We produce less saliva at night, meaning all the sugars from the alcohol sit on the teeth until you next brush them. This can cause havoc in your mouth. Before bed, make sure to brush your teeth for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Adding mouthwash to your routine can further help wash away any acid left behind. Most mouthwashes also have added benefits which can prevent you from developing gum disease.

 Click here to learn how to improve your dental routine, so your smile stays nice and healthy.

Worried About How Alcohol May Affect Your Smile? Contact Corner House Dental in Norwich.

We are open five days a week, Monday-Friday. If you cannot make it to us during the week, we are also open on Saturday, by appointment only. Call 01603 621613 to talk to one of our helpful reception team at Corner House Dental. Or, click here for an alternative method to contact us.

We look forward to welcoming you.