Dental Health Topics

Is Alcohol Bad for Your Teeth?

That’s right, folks. We’re asking this question around holiday party season. Can alcohol be bad for your teeth?

Just as you might have a strategy to avoid overeating at the dessert table, you’ll also benefit from knowing how alcohol can affect your oral health. This way, you can make informed choices while still enjoying a little holiday cheer!

While we’d love to tell you that alcohol has no effect on your teeth, and in fact will help you live longer and more prosperous life, the latest research says otherwise. There are some very real ill effects of alcohol on your dental health.

Drying Effect

Unlike water, which hydrates your mouth and protects it from cavity-causing bacteria and acid, alcohol dries out the mouth. When paired with alcohol's acidic nature, this drying effect provides the perfect low pH environment for bacteria to feast.

And if that weren't all, because we're prone to sip alcoholic beverages for hours on end, doing so keeps the pH in our mouths low for hours at a time. This is not a good scenario for our teeth and gums, which require saliva to prevent cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis. 


Wine, like coffee, can stain your teeth. Fortunately, in most cases, the staining is temporary.

Staining is caused by a number of things, such as acidity, which etches the teeth allowing color to stick. There are also tannins, which love teeth so much they bind to the enamel and trap the wine's color along with it.

The good thing is, you can keep discoloration at bay by munching on food while drinking, and then chewing gum once you’re done consuming. This will bathe your mouth in saliva, and bring your pH back to normal.

Also, as an aside, hold off on brushing your teeth until at least a half hour after you’re done consuming. If done too early, the soft nature of your enamel after drinking can cause unwanted abrasion.

Long Term Effects

If your alcohol consumption habits are more frequent, and larger than what’s recommended, you should be aware that these effects are compounding.

There is a risk of oral cancer. In fact, if you are prone to combining alcohol with smoking, your oral cancer risk is six times greater than if you solely smoked or drank.

Scientists believe the effects of alcohol on the mouth enable cancer-causing agents in cigarette smoke greater access to our oral tissues resulting in a favorable environment for cancer to develop.

Are Some Drinks Better Than Others? 

We’re glad you asked!

The same principles apply to all beverages – alcoholic or not. Opt for clear-colored, lower sugar options, which cause less staining and less cavity-causing acid to attack your teeth.

Take a light beer or white wine over a stout or red wine. Or choose cocktails that contain seltzer water over tonic water or soda.

If you really want to be an A+ student, indulge in one serving of your favorite beverage and then stick with plain or seltzer water after that.

As always, enjoy alcoholic beverages in moderation. If you can’t stop at one, don’t start with one!