With the football season upon us, we might as well get our toothbrushes ready. Watching a game with a bucket of brews feels like a national pastime, but it's not only a workout for our livers, it's a pesky problem for our pearly whites.
About one in four people who tailgate before football games drink at least five alcoholic beverages, according to a University of Minnesota study. Individuals in the highest blood alcohol content range knocked back an average of 6.6 drinks.
"Everywhere you look voluminous quantities of alcohol are being consumed," Doug Shavel, who has tailgated at New York Jets home games for more than 10 years, told ABC News. "People arrive by 9 a.m. for a [1 p.m.] kickoff and they're drinking the entire time. Some continue drinking postgame while they wait for the parking lot to clear out."
Whether you're cheering for your team from the stadium or your couch, drinking and football seem to go hand and hand.
Guzzling beer for three and half hours spells trouble for oral health, since beer is a well-known contributor to bad breath. Aside from the Homer Simpson-esque burps and wry smiles, sipping beer dries out the mouth, leading to a condition aptly called dry mouth.
When you drink alcohol, it inhibits the production of vascopression, which is an anti-diuretic hormone. This causes your kidneys to work harder to remove excess water from your system, sending water to your bladder - and you to the restroom in the middle of that field-goal attempt - instead of your organs.
When it comes to your mouth, alcohol reduces salivary secretion, blocking saliva that normally helps to lubricate the oral cavity while eliminating foreign microbial invaders from stinking up the place.
The good news is that there are tricks to combat these side effects.
Ways to defend against dry mouth and bad breath while watching football games
1. The best defense for alcohol-induced dry mouth is drinking water. Alternate a cup of beer with a cup of water. This will help hydrate your body and stimulate saliva production.
2. Keep a pack of gum handy. After drinking beer, chew a piece of sugar-free gum, which moistens the mouth by rebooting saliva flow.
3. Eat water-dense foods. If possible, opt for watermelon slices, tomatoes on your burger, or celery and carrots with dip. These juicy fruits and vegetables pack lots of water that can join the fight against halitosis. According to the Institute of Medicine, 20 percent of your water intake comes from food sources.
If you want to stay on the offensive, consider refraining from drinking alcohol in the first place. But clearly not everyone will be a fan of that rule.