What is alcohol doing to your teeth?

Sep 20, 2021

Have you ever considered the effect alcohol might be having on your teeth and gums? I wanted to have a better understanding, so I spoke to Dr Frank Farrelly from Darlinghurst Dental.
Dr Frank Farrelly

Let's get the obvious things out the way first - yes - Dr Frank Farrelly conforms - "red wine is notorious for causing staining." 

But aside from this, he tells me that it's actually the acids in alcoholic drinks and not the alcohol per se, that causes problems for teeth. 

This means that alcohol free alternatives can still be damaging due to their acid levels. However, a big plus for non-alcoholic wine, beer and spirits is that we tend to have less of them. "Consuming less, consuming over a shorter period and especially consuming less frequently will be hugely beneficial to dental health," says Dr Frank. 


Woman smiling outdoors

We all know that sugar is bad for our teeth. So when it comes to drinking both alcohol and non-alcoholic spirits, it's often the sugar in mixers that is bad for our teeth. "Keeping to a sugar free mixer with the alcoholic or non-alcoholic spirit would be beneficial," Dr Frank notes. 

If you're looking to cut down on sugar, our new section labels will help you to find the best Sugar Free Non Alcoholic Spirits, and Sugar Free Tonic & Mixers

Teeth grinding 

A happy woman outside smiling

There is another way that alcohol effects teeth. "There is a theory that the headaches of a hangover are not related to the dehydration effect, but actually muscular pain from bruxism (teeth grinding) due to the disturbance alcohol has on sleep," Dr Frank explains. 

It turns out that grinding and acid wear together cause even more damage than the cumulative wear of each problem alone. Dr Frank says that this is because the acid causes some wear and the grinding causes some wear, but the acid weakens the surface enough that the grinding wear is worse than grinding alone. 


The American Dental Association (ADA) warns that another well known side effect of drinking alcohol can also damage your teeth - dehydration. Alcohol consumption causes a decrease in saliva flow, so rather than being washed away naturally, bacteria clings to tooth enamel, which increases your risk of tooth decay.

On top of this, if you have have had one too many alcoholic drinks, you're also more likely to skip bedtime tooth brushing. 


Looking after teeth 

So what else can we do to minimise damage to our teeth? Dr Frank says that drinking water will help with diluting any acidity effect. But there are a few other things you can do. 

"Having a calcium based snack, like cheese, with wine (whether it be alcohol or alcohol free) can help to bring down the acidity and makes calcium available in the saliva, promoting the bodies own protective mechanisms," Dr Frank explains. 

On top of this, he says that drinking through a straw is a good way to avoid the acid based drinks touching your teeth. "Obviously this would be more applicable to cocktails, mocktails or spirits than wines or beers," he adds. 

4 sugar free drinks to try 

Monday Distillery Classic Non-Alcoholic G&T


What customers are saying: "I absolutely rate this, I can pop small wedges of lemon straight in the bottle or have on ice. This is the real deal, can’t say enough about this product. Perfection!"  

Finery Alc-Free Sparkling Cocktail - Grapefruit Cucumber & Mint


Naked Life Margarita Non-Alcoholic Cocktail


What customers are saying: "I tried this served with some mint and couple of slices of lime and was amazed with the outcome - lovely and fresh, not too sweet - will be ordering some more for sure."  

Gordon's Alcohol Free 0.0


What customers are saying: "Over the past few weeks during COVID lockdown restrictions, my family members and I have been having a virtual happy hour making gin based cocktails. Gordon's gin has been perfect and has gone well with all the cocktail recipes so far." 

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