St. Patrick’s Day has a, well, let’s say a reputation. As a celebration of Irish pride, inhibitions are often thrown out the window in favor of a good time—one that typically involves alcohol. As much fun as St. Patrick’s Day can be, a long day of drinking can not only leave you with a hangover the following morning, but it paves the way for cavities to set up shop on your teeth.
Tooth decay is a big problem related to alcohol consumption because of the sugars in alcoholic drinks. The natural bacteria in our mouths consume the sugar we eat to make acids that wear away the protective enamel layer and form a cavity. This is especially true when the teeth are constantly exposed to the sugars and starches in alcohol without a break. And once enamel is gone, it’s gone.
But it’s not just the sugar and starches in alcohol that can be harmful to teeth. Alcohol dries out the mouth just like smoking does and dry mouth (yes, that’s a real thing) can accelerate the damage caused by the sugar in alcohol. Saliva is a powerful tool that reduces the incidence of cavities as it washes away foods and bacteria.
So be warned. If you partake in St. Patrick’s Day festivities, give your mouth a break. Drink water as a buffer between adult beverages; it will clean your teeth and keep your body hydrated. Also, brush and floss your teeth as soon as possible after you’re finished having fun!
For those heavy drinkers planning on a weeklong St. Patrick’s Day celebration, the probability of damage from alcohol is much higher.
Heavy drinking can cause:
- Irritation of the gums, tongue, and oral tissues.
- Increase in tooth decay.
- Increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease.
- Poor healing after dental surgery.
- Poor dental health habits.
Heavy drinkers are also at greater risk of developing cancer in the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Obviously, these are effects you want to avoid. So, if you’re going out for St. Patrick’s Day, take it easy and drink plenty of water. Your teeth will thank you!
Thinking about dying that drink green? Consider how you do it.
*Updated March 2022