With summer heat comes an adult thirst for refreshing libations, whether beer with barbecue, a glass of wine while dining outdoors, or an umbrella drink poolside. We all know that too much alcohol can impair our ability to function, and a few drinks a day can expand our waistline. Did you know, however, that alcohol does not contain sugar?
Alcohol is derived from fermentation, the process that occurs when yeast reacts with sugar in foods, like fruits, molasses, sugar, and grains. With fermentation, some residual sugar remains in the form of carbohydrates. Distilled alcohols, however, have no sugar or other carbs. Distillation involves heating a fermented liquid into vapors, then condensing them. The glycemic index (GI), which indicates the amount of sugar in a substance, rates a zero for distilled alcohol, beer, and wine.
What does this have to do with dentistry? A few things, actually.
Sugars, Carbs, and Your Oral Health
Sugar is a carbohydrate, or starch. Sugars and starches we consume react with our saliva to create an acid that leads to tooth decay. The acid takes minerals from tooth enamel, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria – and this is when cavities form. Reduce your risk for cavities by drinking water after consuming any sugars or other starches.
Alcohol consumption, and smoking, increase the risk for oral cancer, gum disease, and slow healing of mouth sores. Moderation plus six-month preventive dental checkups will help you stay on top of your oral health. Early detection of oral cancer and/or gum disease allows for a greater chance of successful treatment, as well as less invasive treatment.
Other Health Considerations
Drinking before bed can make you more prone to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While snoring in and of itself isn’t dangerous, OSA is associated with increased risk for stroke, heart attack, impotence, depression, and many other detrimental health conditions. Furthermore, people with diabetes or uncontrolled blood sugar levels, as well as pregnant women, should avoid alcoholic beverages.
Moderation and Awareness
Dr. Calcagno and our team don’t want to douse your fun this summer, but we do want you to be safe and healthy. If you drink alcohol in the summer sun, don’t become dehydrated. Follow each drink with a tall glass of water. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and attend six-month checkups and cleanings. If you have questions about your oral or overall health, don’t hesitate to call us.
Located in Rochester, MN, Calcagno Family & Cosmetic Dentistry provides complete dental care for patients of all ages. We serve families from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, and surrounding communities. Call 507-281-3659 today to reserve your appointment with Dr. Janet Calcagno and our team.