Home to a growing number of craft breweries and taprooms, it’s clear that Austin loves its beer. In fact, the city was recently named one of the next big craft-beer markets.
With the Texas Craft Brewers Festival ready to tap on Sept. 24, now is a great time to consider the effects of beer on our teeth. And, no, the news isn’t all bad; so go ahead and indulge (responsibly, of course).
Beer and Acidity
Beer is acidic, and with regular consumption the acids erode teeth enamel. This can make your teeth more susceptible to staining and tooth decay.
However, as a Good Housekeeping article about the impacts of alcohol on teeth points out, beer is typically less acidic than other alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Compared with many other alcoholic and carbonated drinks, beer also has a higher water content, which helps offset the effects of acids.
It’s important to note that beers vary widely in acidity. Lambic, gose, gueuze, wild ale, Berliner weisse and oud bruin are among the more acidic styles of beer.
Beer and Teeth Discoloration
Dark foods and drinks contribute to teeth discoloration, and the risk for teeth staining increases the more regularly they are consumed.
Darker beers like stouts draw their deep colors from roasted barley and malt, which can give the teeth a brownish or yellowish tint. Beers brewed with dark fruits like cherries, berries, currants or plums can compound the discoloration.
Beer and Oral Health
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Periodontology indicates that routine alcohol consumption contributes to the onset of periodontal disease and accelerates existing gum disease. The acids and sugars in beer and other alcoholic drinks contribute to plaque accumulation, which leads to gum disease.
Alcohol also has a drying effect on the mouth, which further fuels plaque buildup. This progressively leads to gum inflammation, which can turn into periodontal disease.
But beer is not without rewards. A 2014 Popular Science blog post cites research into the benefits of certain beer ingredients, particularly barley and hops. These key ingredients contain calcium and silicon, which promote bone, hair and teeth health. Hops also has antibacterial properties that seem beneficial to teeth and gum health.
Preventing Beer-Related Teeth Damage
The most important thing you can do to protect your teeth from the harmful effects of beer is to follow a good, simple, dental hygiene routine. This includes brushing at least twice daily, preferably after eating and drinking, and maintaining regular checkups and teeth cleanings with your dentist.
While enjoying beer, slip in the occasional sip of water and swish it around a bit to flush alcohol from the teeth (alcohol dries the mouth and decreases saliva flow). After drinking and between brushings, you can also chew a piece of sugar-free gum to promote saliva production and clear residue from the teeth.
When it comes to beer’s overall effects on your dental health and overall health, there is no blanket good or bad, no right or wrong. The key is to enjoy in moderation.
Dan Matthews, DDS, FAGD, is proud to provide comprehensive dental care in the great city of Austin, Texas. If you’re considering cosmetic or restorative dentistry treatment, please call our Bee Cave Road office today at 512-452-2273 to schedule your complimentary consultation.