Dry January is an annual campaign created by the charity Alcohol Concern to encourage people around the UK to give up drinking for the 31 days of January. Before we give you some tips on how to successfully get through January, let us explain the negative effect alcohol can have on your teeth.
Although teeth are tough, they’re also porous and can easily become stained over time by red wine and other coloured alcohol. A whitening toothpaste may help, but a thorough scale and polish with your hygienist is a much more effective way to lift more stubborn surface stains. Alcohol is also dehydrating and reduces saliva flow. Saliva helps to neutralise acids in the mouth, so when you don’t produce enough, you risk more acid damage. To help combat this, drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks and stay hydrated
Unfortunately, even if you are not a binge drinker and likes the occasional wine in the evenings, the statistics show increasingly the dental and general health impacts of this behaviour pattern amongst older adults. Surveys show that over half of older people have signs of periodontal (gum) disease, which is affected by alcohol.
After a big night out, you’re more likely to graze on junk food throughout the day to combat a hangover, and sugary foods are most popular, all risking tooth decay. Any dentist will tell you that it’s not the amount of sugar you consume that does the damage, rather it’s the frequency of sugar consumption. This is because every time we eat or drink, bacteria in our mouths produce acids that lead to tooth decay, and it takes our saliva up to an hour to neutralise these acids. So, if you’re constantly snacking, your mouth never gets a chance to recover. Instead, a healthy breakfast will do you and your teeth the world of good. And drink plenty of water!
Alcohol is also dehydrating and reduces saliva flow. Saliva helps to neutralise acids in the mouth, so when you don’t produce enough, you risk more acid damage. To help combat this, drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks and stay hydrated. Sugar-free chewing gum is also handy. You can also try drinking through a straw to limit contact with teeth.