This Thanksgiving, Raise a Glass…to Moderation

Alcohol can negatively affect your oral health - find out how to lessen the impact

TORONTO, Oct. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - During Thanksgiving, having a drink is almost a tradition for most Ontarians, whether it's toasting the occasion, enjoying a nice wine with dinner or indulging in an after-dinner apéritif. Whatever the reason, the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) wants to remind you that alcohol can have an impact on your oral health - and may leave you feeling less than festive.

"It's fine to have an occasional alcoholic drink at a holiday party or family gathering," says Dr. Rick Caldwell, President of the ODA. "But too many drinks wear away tooth enamel and discolour teeth - moderation is key when it comes to alcohol."

When you drink, your mouth is exposed to increased levels of sugars and acids found in alcohol. This can be damaging to your teeth, especially if your alcohol consumption is heavy. Here's how:

  • Some alcohol contains natural sugar, while others have sugar added to them to counteract the bitterness. You could be getting extra sugar from other ingredients you add to alcohol, such as juices or syrups. Bacteria feed on all this sugar on your teeth, breaking it down and converting it to acid.
  • In addition to the acid caused from the increased sugar, most alcoholic drinks are very acidic themselves (particularly those that are mixed with sodas and fruit juices). All of this acid, combined with the sugar, can really cause damage to your teeth.
  • Wines, especially reds, can stain your teeth. Some dental work, such as crowns and veneers are more vulnerable to staining.

Another important point to keep in mind is that drinking alcohol is the second major risk factor for developing oral cancer. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the risk of developing oral cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Using alcohol and tobacco together increases a person's risk of developing oral cancer more than using either one alone.

While occasional alcohol use may not cause problems, you should still take precautions.

  • Drink water after you have an alcoholic drink. It will not only help rinse out the sugars and acids, it will help you avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Chew on sugarless gum or snack on cheese. This can stimulate saliva flow which will also help rinse your teeth of sugar and acids.
  • Maintain your oral health routines. Even during holidays, it's important to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
  • Avoid alcohol or limit the amount of alcohol you drink. If you use tobacco products, talk to your dentist about quitting.
  • Don't forget to visit your dentist regularly for preventive care.

"Maintaining good oral health throughout the year can see you through occasional indulgences during special occasions," says Dr. Caldwell. "Spending time with family and friends during Thanksgiving is more enjoyable when everyone is healthy."

For more oral health tips, visit www.youroralhealth.ca.

SOURCE: Ontario Dental Association

For further information:

contact ODA Public Affairs and Communications:

Courtney Sorger
416-355-2275
media@oda.ca

Bonnie Dean
416-922-3900, ext. 3314
media@oda.ca

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