How to Advise Patients of the Effects of Alcohol on Teeth

effects of alcohol on teeth

Moderate alcohol drinking can be part of a healthy lifestyle, we were told. Just don’t drink too much, they said. That’s why it’s not surprising that American adults drink an average of nearly 2 drinks per day.

But the rise in the number of alcohol-related deaths has raised concerns about the short and long-term harmful effects of alcohol consumption.

Now we know how alcohol can damage your body. But not many people talk about the damage to your oral health.

Hence why it’s really difficult to talk to your patients about the effects of alcohol on teeth. Keep reading for advice on the angle you should take to communicate the damage your patients are doing to their teeth.

1. Higher Levels of Plaque

Plaque is the film that builds up over your teeth. The millions of bacteria in the plaque can cause a number of oral diseases, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Of course, you need to make sure your patients are regularly brushing with toothpaste and flossing. This is an important way of removing plaque.

But you also need to warn your patients that heavy alcohol consumption leads to higher levels of plaque. This puts them at a high risk of getting a range of oral diseases.

2. Tooth Loss

If your patients with serious alcohol problems are not convinced, warnings about the effects of tooth loss could work. You need to explain that heavy drinkers of alcohol are actually three times more likely to experience tooth loss.

If this doesn’t persuade your patient to change their ways, you have to ask them – what would make you stop drinking? All you can say is that you can save your life and your teeth by giving up alcohol altogether.

3. Stained Teeth

It’s not only heavy alcohol drinkers that could be harming their teeth due to alcohol consumption.

Drink-makers put chromogens in the beverages to dye the color. Of course, this substance is not harmful to human health.

But it does attach to the tooth enamel. When it mixes with the acid in the alcohol, this causes the teeth to stain. If your patient wants a white smile, they need to significantly reduce consumption or avoid alcohol totally.

You can also suggest they can avoid the staining damage to teeth by drinking with a straw. If they enjoy drinking dark sodas or red wine, they can say goodbye to the white smile too. However, beer is not much better either.

If they’re not willing to give up alcohol, you can suggest that they wash their mouth between drinks. This will reduce the staining.

4. Drying of the Mouth

The saliva in your mouth actually serves a purpose. It keeps your mouth from drying out and your teeth nice and moist. Your patients may ask: why would you need moist teeth?

You can explain that this helps to remove the plaque and bacteria which builds on the surface of your teeth. Even though alcohol is a liquid, your patients probably already know that you can be become dehydrated by drinking alcohol.

You need to tell your patients to at least drink plenty of water whenever they’re drinking alcohol.

Effects of Alcohol on Teeth

Now you know how to advise your patients on the effects of alcohol on teeth.

You’re probably going to have a number of different patients with a variety of levels of alcohol consumption. And of course, some are going to be more willing than others to reduce consumption.

With our advice, you can make sure you communicate the damage alcohol can do to your patient’s oral health.

Alcohol is not the only threat to oral health people don’t know about. Check out our blog on advising your patients on sleep.