AN AUSSIE dentist wants us all to go easy on the red bull and vodkas because they’re eating away at our teeth.
“I don’t think people are aware of the damage it causes,” Dr Christopher Ho told news.com.au.
“I mean, people know about the after effects of a big night out, but we need to raise awareness of how that affects your teeth too. Tooth erosion is the biggest problem, and it’s all linked in with acid – we drink red bull with vodka, we mix alcohol with soft drink, then we think we’re being healthy by having juice or salads with lots of dressing. It’s this acid content that erodes your teeth.
“Alcohol dehydrates, and when you’re dehydrated you don’t have a lot of saliva in your mouth. Inside saliva there are anti bacterial agents which buffer acid, but when people are dehydrated these agents disappear, and so get more decay and erosion
It’s even worse news if you’re a binge drinker.
“If you vomit after drinking alcohol, you’re going to have problems with acid reflux. The affects are a bit like that of a bulimic patient, where you have teeth being eroded because of the acid coming out of your mouth,” he said. There is also a strong clinical link between the excessive consumption of alcohol and head and neck cancers.
Well, that though alone is enough to make you never want to drink again. But if you find yourself stumbling home and falling into bed after a big night out, you’re not helping your plaque situation either.
In the ADA Dental Health Report commissioned by Oral-B, as many as three quarters of 18-29 year olds admitted to not always brushing their teeth after a night on the booze – despite 60 per cent saying they experience a ‘furry’ sensation on their teeth.
Now as we all know, furry teeth are a tell-tale sign of plaque build-up. Plaque on your teeth is actually “a collection of bacteria, sitting on your teeth all night. If you’re living this lifestyle continually, that’s when you’re going to have troubles”
Sometimes people think if they brush their teeth harder the next morning they will get cleaner and whiter, but it’s just wrong. Plaque is soft, it doesn’t need to be scrubbed hard, it’s not like dirt on your shoes. You’re just brushing away the enamel, which ironically is what makes the teeth white,” said Dr Ho.
So, what’s the solution?
“Rather than using soft drink as a mixer, use soda. Then, use a straw if you’re having mixer drinks, soft drink, sport drinks or juices.
“Drink water during or after you have the drinks. Anything that’s going to dilute the acid is good, and water will dilute the acid, so if you’re having a glass of wine have a glass of water with it. If you’ve had a big night out, drink lots of water the next day, too. Chewing gum is OK because it stimulates saliva, but it must be sugar free – and water is better. Teeth are porous so they will pick up stains from red wine, coffee, spicy foods, so water is good for this, too. It’s quite normal for teeth to stain, so you can use whitening toothpaste, but the only way to whiten properly is to do it at the dentist.
“Don’t brush your teeth straight away after drinking – it’s the worst time, you’re going to be brushing away the enamel. Wait 60 minutes because your enamel’s been softened by the acid you’ve been given, and you don’t want to make it worse.”