Australians, despite only ranking 22nd in alcohol consumption per capita, drink about 23 glasses of alcohol each per four week period, according to a study by Roy Morgan Research in 2015. On its own, alcohol can harm teeth due to its high acidity, and darker alcohol such as red wine and beer contains chromogens (dark pigments) which can also stain teeth.
However, there is one other side effect of alcohol that harms teeth: it makes you want to eat. Alcohol doesn't cause you to crave salads, unfortunately. Instead, it tends to make you crave unhealthy foods that are packed with flavour, such as pizza, kebabs and fried chicken. A study at Purdue University, in Indiana, discovered that alcohol enhanced the flavour of salty and fatty foods.
And because alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, you are more likely to do something you wouldn't otherwise do—such as binge on junk food!
Unfortunately, binging brought on by alcohol consumption, and in fact combined with alcohol consumption, may eventually lead to dental complications.
Acidic Alcohol Followed by Acidic Food Damages Enamel
By now, you know that alcohol is acidic, but you might not know what that means for your teeth. When your teeth come into contact with acid, such as that found in alcohol, they soften and release calcium in order to combat the acidity. However, not only does this leave your teeth susceptible to damage, but it also weakens them due to the loss of calcium.
If you then consume foods such as pizza, burgers and bread, all of which contain carbohydrates, which your saliva converts into sugar, you provide bacteria with a rich source of food. Shortly after metabolizing this sugar, this bacterium produces an acidic residue which then begins to break down your already weakened tooth enamel.
Brushing Your Teeth Soon After Binging Also Harms Your Teeth
Due to the softening of your tooth enamel in response to the acid, if you brush your teeth too quickly after eating, you will damage the surface of your teeth. Although you might not see the effects of this damage tomorrow morning, wear and tear will take its toll and you may end up with cavities.
Forgetting to Brush Your Teeth After Binging Is Also a Risk
Likewise, if you forget to brush your teeth after drinking and binging, you will go to sleep with your teeth coated in an acidic residue that will slowly break down the enamel of your teeth.
In future, when you plan a night out, try to pre-empt your urges to binge on junk food by preparing something healthier in advance. Prepare a healthy but delicious salad with calcium rich foods such as cheese and leafy greens, and leave it in the refrigerator. Hopefully, after your night out, instead of reaching for a frozen pizza, or a takeaway menu, you'll reach for that healthy but delicious salad.