New Year's Eve: Best and worst alcoholic drinks for teeth

By – Bad Breath Expert
Posted: December 18, 2013
SUMMARY: Drinking in the New Year? Discover which beverages are best for your teeth.

alcoholic drinks for teeth

Before our resolutions set in, we have a worry-free night of ringing in the new year. For many, that means sharing drinks with friends, family and co-workers. New Year's Eve often holds surprises, but one of them doesn't have to be the terrible aftermath of a long night's drinking on your teeth.

Of course, sugars are bad for teeth. But acids can be just as bad. Acidity is measured in pH, with a level 7 as neutral, and anything below that becoming increasingly erosive. Water, for example, has a pH of 7, whereas battery acid falls at 1. Alcoholic drinks usually rank between 2.5 and 6. 

In a study, Professor Andrew Eder, clinical director of the London Tooth Wear Centre and a specialist in tooth erosion, tested alcohols to find out which beverages were the most harmful to teeth. Some of the results may make you think twice about which drinks you order.

"Your saliva works hard to neutralize any acids, but if you drink a lot of alcohol, over time your mouth regularly becomes acidic," Eder told Capital Bay. "This causes the outer enamel on your teeth to dissolve. When you lose enamel, your teeth can become darker and sensitive and also tend wear even more simply due to daily wear and tear often due to abrasion."

Worst drinks
1. Malibu and coke: Eder discovered that the all-time top offender was this rum concoction, with a pH of 2.5. It tends to be popular among women, yet if you care about your teeth, you might want to reconsider. 

2. Cider and all types of wine have a pH of approximately 3. Although these drinks derive from fruits, don't let them fool you. Sweeter wines, such as a hock, sherry and moscato, contain more sugars, damaging teeth more quickly than a sauvignon blanc or white Bordeaux. Dry wines typically are not sweet, consisting of less sugars after the fermentation process.

3. Fruit juices: Like cider and some wines, the high amounts of sugar in fruit juices are no good for teeth. Avoid cavities by limiting these drinks as mixers or chasers. You may think they'd be healthier, but their pH levels actually come in between 3 and 4. 

4. Pimm?'s and lemonade has a pH level of 3.5. Not only are these drinks sweet, but the sugars provide a double whammy. After all, puckering while sipping back on a drink may be a good indicator your cocktail is wearing down your teeth, which could make getting a cavity treatment an added New Year's Resolution.

Better drink alternatives
1. Ale is your best bet, Eder found. It's clear, leaves no tooth stains and doesn't have as much fizz as lager.

2. Beer, Champagne and cava are superior options, since they have a pH of about 4. It's not perfect, but it's definitely a step up.

"You want your mouth to be pH 7 - neutral," Eder told Capital Bay."When you drink sparkling drinks, fruit juices or alcohol, the pH falls below 5.5."

The bottom line: acidic drinks cause more damage to teeth by wearing down dental enamel and making them more susceptible to decay.

Keep in mind that alcohol of any kind dries out the mouth. When there is no saliva working to clean out bacteria, bad breath can pile up quickly. So, before the ball drops at midnight and you find yourself a New Year's kiss, be sure to throw in a piece of gum.

It is recommended that you drink alkaline beverages and use fluoride mouthwash to enhance enamel formation. Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn't brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking. When you consume these acidic beverages, your dental enamel softens. Thus, brushing could scrape away this healthy coating - doing more harm than good. Wait 30 minutes after eating before getting out the brush. As an alternative, chew on a piece of sugar-free gum that contains xylitol. This will also help kick holiday halitosis.

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