Having an alcoholic beverage here or there will not necessarily harm your teeth, but some of the habits you engage in while drinking can. If you enjoy a cocktail now and again, then just make sure you don't practice any of the following bad habits when you are drinking that can turn an occasional relaxing treat into a path to more frequent cavity fillings.
If you never smoke other than when you are having alcoholic drinks, then you may think that a cigarette or two a couple of days out of the week can't hurt you. The truth is that not only is any amount of smoking bad for your health, but drinking and smoking at the same time is the most common cause of oral cancer.
It is suspected that up to 95-percent of all cases of oral cancer are caused by the combination of smoking and drinking. The reason the two together are so harmful is not yet understood by researchers, but they suspect that when oral tissues are covered in alcohol, they can absorb more of the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke.
So, be aware of this fact and skip the cigarette when drinking and munch on some teeth-friendly peanuts instead.
2. Sucking on Lemons After Drinking Shots
A popular way to drink tequila and some other drinks in "shot" form is to drink the small glass of alcohol and then suck on a lemon (sometimes covered in sugar) to remove the bad taste of the alcohol from your mouth. Lemons are filled with tooth-eroding acid, and sucking on just a few lemons a week has the potential to erode your tooth enamel leading to tooth sensitivity and even cavities.
Instead of following a bad tasting alcoholic beverage with a lemon, why not drink a beverage you enjoy the taste of instead? You can then skip the acidic lemons and the tooth damage that comes with them.
3. Drinking Very Acidic Cocktails
While you should drink beverages you enjoy, some cocktails are much more acidic than others. Many acidic mixers are also filled with sugar, and that combination sipped over long periods of time is a recipe for cavities.
Sugar-filled, acidic cocktails to skip include:
- Margaritas. What makes this beverage so delicious, yet also bad for your teeth, is several ounces of lime juice, simple syrup (which is sugar-water), and a sweet liqueur.
- Cosmopolitans. This cocktail also contains lots of acidic lime juice and a sweet, sugary liqueur.
- Appletinis. Lemon juice and very acidic green apple liqueur makes this a cavity-causing cocktail.
Better adult beverage options include light beers and cocktails made of a sugar-free alcohol, such as vodka, and soda water. You can ask the bartender to add a small splash of juice for flavor. The juice won't be as much of a problem when it is diluted in so much soda water.
If you enjoy an occasional night out to drink a few cocktails, then don't couple your indulgence with any of the above habits. Your tooth enamel and your dentist will thank you for practicing good habits while drinking alcohol.