Holiday Beverages and Teeth

Enjoy A Few Holiday Spirits This Season Without Damaging Your Teeth

We’re in the holiday season, and it’s time to make merry, see friends and family, and enjoy delicious food and drink. But while you are enjoying adult beverages by the fire this season, your teeth could be suffering. Here’s a little look at how alcohol affects your teeth and tips for keeping your pearly whites bright all season long.

The Naughty List: What Alcohol Does to Your Teeth

No matter your preference, all forms of alcohol take a toll on your teeth. Who doesn’t love a glass of vino, especially a decadent bottle that is uncorked for a family gathering? Despite the smooth, mellow feelings they bring, wines are acidic and erode tooth enamel. High-sugar wines, like ports or Rieslings, cause a spike in mouth bacteria, which can increase tooth erosion and cavities. Beverages get their color from things called chromogens. Chromogens attach to tooth enamel that has been compromised by the acid in alcohol, thus staining your pearly whites. This is one reason red wine stains are apparent so quickly, as seen with more than one “Merlot mouth” at company parties.

So, you may think you are safe with a Bombay Sapphire and tonic or a dirty Ketel One martini. Sadly, you aren’t! Alcohol is not only full of acid (and G&T’s are notoriously high in sugar), but it also dries out the mouth. Saliva keeps teeth moist and helps remove plaque and bacteria from the tooth’s surface. It can also lead to bad breath, which will leave you the lone lover under the mistletoe at parties.

Sugary mixers, citrus add-ins, and delightfully crunchy ice can also wreak holiday havoc on your teeth. Knowing all this, it can seem like you are looking at an entirely sober holiday without the benefit of a champagne toast or an Irish coffee. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent damage to your teeth while you enjoy your favorite adult beverages.

The Nice List: Tips to Drink By

Here are few tips for keeping your teeth white as snow and strong as 25-year-old Lagavulin:

  • Pretend you’re on an island vacation and have your cocktail with a straw.
  • Drink water while drinking to stay hydrated and keep saliva flowing.
  • For dark colored soda-based drinks, like Long Island Iced Teas or a traditional Jack and Coke, and red wines, be sure to rinse your mouth with water between drinks to reduce staining.
  • As much as you may want to, don’t chew the ice or you run the risk of breaking a tooth.
  • Choose beverages that are lower in sugar—try dry wines and champagnes, light beers, and pure spirits, which have zero carbs such as whiskey, tequila, vodka, and cognac. Be sure to watch your mixers and citrus garnish to keep sugar and acid low.
  • Use a whitening toothpaste after parties to stop reduce staining.

With these useful holiday tips, you can responsibly enjoy a few drinks and keep your smile off the naughty list this holiday season.