What is the Result of Alcohol on Teeth?

Who doesn’t want to have a teeth of pearly whites? We all want to have white, shiny, and straight teeth. Since childhood, we become used to hearing that candy, sweets, sugar, and carbonated beverages are going to spoil our teeth. This thought process persists even when we grow up and become adults. However, no one ever mentions the effects of alcohol on teeth. Finding out just how bad alcohol is for your teeth is actually going to come as a shock to many people. While moderate and occasional alcohol consumption is not going to cause any harm to your teeth, regularly drinking alcohol is not considered to be healthy.

Not only does alcohol have an effect on your teeth, but it affects your gums and the mouth tissues as well. According to the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of moderate alcohol consumption is one drink per day for women, and it is limited to two drinks a day for men. Heavy drinking, as per CDC standards, refers to 8 drinks or more in a week for women, and 15 or more drinks for men. So, how does this affect our teeth?

It has been observed that people who are heavy alcohol drinkers have a much higher level of plaque on their teeth. They are also at a much higher risk of experiencing permanent loss of their teeth.

If you are a moderate alcohol drinker, you might be wondering if your teeth are also at risk or not? Well, as of today, there is not enough evidence that shows the effect of moderate alcohol drinking on teeth.

What is the Result of Alcohol on Teeth?

What is the Result of Alcohol on Teeth?

Some of the major effects of alcohol on teeth are discussed below:

  1. Tooth Stains

    Now you may be thinking that this is a fairly common occurrence in people who smoke. However, according to Dr. John Grbic, an expert in dentistry at the Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine, alcohol contains color which is imparted from chromogens. Similar to the staining by nicotine in smokers, these chromogens also attach to the enamel of your tooth. It is easy for these chromogens to attach to the enamel, because the enamel has already been weakened and compromised from the regular consumption of alcohol, which contains a certain level of acid. You can avoid stains on your teeth if you opt for drinking alcohol through a straw.

    In fact, if you prefer to have red wine or if you are mixing your alcohol with any dark sodas, then it is even more likely that your teeth will get stained. Dark colored carbonated beverages are often used for mixing with liquor. These soft drinks can also stain or discolor your teeth. Therefore, if you are mixing alcohol with any kind of dark colored soft drink, it is recommended that you rinse your mouth with water from time to time between drinking.

    Red wine and sangria are more likely to stain your teeth if you have them regularly. If not staining, then drinks with deep hues can definitely result in causing an overall dullness and permanent discoloration of your teeth.

    What about beer? You may think that beer is okay to have as there is no color in it that can stain your teeth. However, it is only marginally better at not staining your teeth. Beer is also acidic and it is possible for your teeth to get stained by some of the dark barley and malts, which are found in darker hued beers.

    Drinking alcohol from a straw, rinsing your mouth frequently in between all the drinking, as well as using a whitening toothpaste are some of the options you can use to avoid staining and discoloration of your teeth.

  2. Sugar Content

    It is generally assumed that alcohol has no sugar content. Wrong. There are many types of alcoholic drinks that have a significant amount of sugar present in them. Furthermore, if you are mixing your liquor with a soft drink, then the sugar content almost doubles. It is a well-known fact that sugar is a major risk factor for tooth decay. Sugar intake can cause tooth decay because the bacteria living in your mouth, thrives on sugar. So when you sip on sweet drinks, the bacteria get enough fuel to grow and multiply rapidly. To counteract this, you can opt for drinks that have lower sugar content.

    For example, it is estimated that dry brut champagne has only 0.5 grams of sugar for every 5-ounce serving. However, doux champagne, on the other hand, can contain 8 to 10 grams of sugar in the same serving.

    Wine also works in the same manner. Your typical dry white wine will give you a consumption of around 3 grams of sugar for a 5-ounce serving. Whereas, a sweet red wine, or port wine, or even a sherry wine will pack in around 8 grams of sugar in the same serving size. If you are in doubt about the sugar content of your drink, then it is a safer bet to consume a drier drink to safeguard your teeth.

  3. Dry Mouth

    Saliva is very important for the health of your teeth and your mouth. If you are consuming alcohol regularly, then it is likely to cause dry mouth. The role of saliva in our mouth is to remove plaque and bacteria from the surface of our teeth. However, when your mouth becomes dry, it produces less saliva; the bacteria are able to cling better to the enamel of your teeth, thus, putting you at risk of tooth decay and infections as well. You can avoid this from happening by drinking water in between and remaining hydrated.


Maintaining good oral hygiene is a must for everyone, regardless if you are consuming alcohol or not. Damage to your teeth can often be permanent. You are likely to increase the risk of tooth damage if you have a habit of chewing on the ice chips that come in your drinks or if you are adding a slice of lemon to your drink. Chewing on ice can chip or break your teeth, which adding citrus increases the acid level present in the mouth, thus corroding the tooth enamels. Therefore, you must take care of your teeth and visit your dentist on a regular basis to ensure that your teeth are healthy.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 16, 2019

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