Living near Beer City, USA has made craft beer a part of West Michigan’s culture. Exploring new breweries and trying different beers has become a hobby and fun pastime for many. But does our love of beer have any effect on our teeth? And if so, what kind of impact can it have over time?
Let’s Talk Beer
Just understanding the basic composition of beer can give us a clue on what your favorite pint can do to your pearly whites. All beer, from stouts to IPAs, is crafted by brewing a cereal grain that then ferments to become alcohol. Then, the alcohol that’s created is carbonated. This makes beer acidic, which is where we start to see problems for your teeth.
Acidity & Beer
As reported in an article from Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine, the pH inside your mouth should be between 6.2 and 7.0. When you eat or drink something that’s pH falls below 5.7, enamel demineralization can occur. Essentially, this means that the acid from the food or drink is eating away at the protective enamel on your teeth.
Unfortunately, beer makes the list of acidic foods, with an average pH of between 4.0 and 5.5. The carbonation in beer can quickly turn to carbonic acid in your mouth, which wears away at your teeth’s enamel. Over time, as you drink more acidic beverages like beer, your teeth can face a serious threat of enamel loss, which can lead to dental problems like tooth sensitivity and cavities. Because enamel is not a living substance, once it is lost or worn down, your body cannot replenish or repair it. Any enamel issues you have can only be addressed by a dentist.
Acidity isn’t the only threat that beer poses to your teeth. Here are a few additional oral health problems that can be caused by drinking too much beer without proper oral hygiene:
Alcohol Can Cause Dehydration
Drinking in excess can dehydrate the body. For the mouth, this means decreased saliva production, which your mouth needs to wash away bacteria, food and drink particles, and sugars. When these substances cling to the teeth, you are at greater risk for tooth decay and cavities.
Alcohol = Sugar
Beer isn’t generally too sweet, but it is packed with sugars, and those sugars can be damaging to your teeth. Sugar sticks to your teeth and is then consumed by the natural bacteria found in your mouth. These bacteria then secrete acids as a byproduct, which eats away the enamel on your teeth, making them susceptible to decay. Like we mentioned before, once enamel is gone, it can’t be restored.
Just like other dark drinks such as coffee and cola, dark beers can stain your teeth’s enamel, leading to discoloration. For frequent dark beer drinkers, this discoloration can become more noticeable over time. If possible, drink water while enjoying your beer to help wash the beer off of your teeth. The best option is to brush your teeth soon after finishing your beverage.
Could Beer Be Good For Your Teeth?
Beer has been found to have a number of health benefits when consumed in moderation. Craft beers, especially, which are typically brewed with fresh ingredients and that undergo minimal processing, have been shown to assist in digestion, decrease kidney stones, and even help increase good cholesterol. Some of the health benefits of beer can extend to your teeth, too!
Beer is High in Calcium
There are foods that can actually be good for your teeth. Many craft beers are made from barley and hops that have high levels of silicon and calcium. Both of these nutrients are important for your body and help promote strong bones, teeth, nails, and hair. If you’re looking for beers that can do your body the most good, it always helps to search for a craft beer that has been brewed locally with real, fresh ingredients. Typically, lighter ales like pilsners and IPAs will offer the most calcium and silicon, because their barley and hops are unroasted in the brewing process.
Beer is a Bacteria Killer
The yeast and good bacteria in beer that kickoff the fermenting process also have a tendency to kill off bad bacteria. The antibacterial qualities of hops have been shown to deter the development of microorganisms in the mouth. Tannins, the good acids in your brew, have similar properties to the fluoride you find in your toothpaste. Tannins can also help your chompers out by preventing bacteria from attaching to the enamel of your teeth.
That’s a whole lot of bacteria-killing for just a brew! Of course, it’s important to drink beer in moderation and to take great care to avoid some of the negative impacts beer can have on your teeth that we mentioned above. To make sure you’re getting all of the benefits from beer, without any negative effects on your teeth, take a look at a few of these preventative measures:
Protecting your Teeth From Your Favorite Beer
Beer has both good and bad qualities when it comes to keeping your pearly whites, well, white. Here are a few ways you can protect your teeth from the occasional craft brew:
Alternating between beer and water is a good way to make sure your mouth is protected when you’re enjoying your favorite craft brew. Water will help wash away the sugars and acids that cause cavities and tooth decay. It will also help keep you hydrated, which is important for your overall oral health.
Always brush your teeth after a night on the town. The acidity and sugar in beer can be seriously damaging, and the deep color in darker beers like Scottish ales and stouts will cause stains if left to sit on your teeth. It’s a good idea to brush your teeth as soon as possible after enjoying your favorite beer.
Visit your Dentist
Keeping up with your regular dental cleanings is another good way to make sure your beer drinking isn’t affecting your smile. That regular 6-month visit is important to get rid of buildup and stop serious stains from settling and sticking to your teeth. The cleaner your teeth are to start with, the less likely they will be to stain in the future, so make sure you’re sticking to your appointment schedule!
If you want more tips to keep your teeth white, even after enjoying the occasional craft beer, check out our page on the best ways to keep your teeth healthy.
With this new understanding of the relationship between your teeth and your favorite beer, you now know more about ways to prevent damage to your teeth’s enamel. If you’ve noticed discoloration or erosion of your enamel, think about scheduling an appointment with Mogren Dental. We’re always accepting new patients, and you can make your appointment by calling 231-737-5500 or by scheduling online today!