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The holiday season brings many opportunities for drinking alcoholic beverages. Before you drink, you should be aware of the effects of alcohol on your teeth, gums, and overall health.

Alcohol acts as a diuretic. This means that it cues your body to release too much fluid, and you can get dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to headaches, reduced brain function, and irritability.

Alcohol also dries out the mouth. It reduces saliva production, and that can lead to higher rates of tooth decay. To combat these issues, make sure you drink a lot of water when drinking alcohol.

In addition to drying you out, alcoholic beverages (and dark soda mixers) can also stain your teeth. Red wine, beer, and dark sodas all contribute to browning or yellowing of the enamel. Limit your consumption of these beverages, and be sure to accompany them with water to rinse them away from teeth. Brushing your teeth about 20 minutes after drinking them can help reduce tooth stains (brushing right after acidic beverages such as alcohol can actually scrape up tooth enamel).

Too much alcohol consumption can increase the likelihood of certain cancers of the mouth and throat. To help avoid this, keep alcohol consumption under recommended limits.

Tooth damage related to alcoholic beverages is increased if you add citrus to your drink, or if you chew the ice in your drink. Ice can break teeth, and the added acid wears away at your tooth enamel.

For more information on the effects of alcohol, call Sunshine Dental Group in Commerce, California, at 323.266.2120. Dr. Jorge de la Osa and our team look forward to helping your smile shine bright this holiday season!