For many of us, the holidays is a time for friends, family, food, and potent potables. It’s common for people to indulge in more alcohol over the holidays than they do normally. Some people may just be enjoying the extra license that the holidays give, while others may be relying on alcohol to help them get along in difficult situations.
Whatever your reason for drinking more over the holidays, many people react to their months of overconsumption by going dry in January. It’s not a year-long resolution to abstain, just a month to let your body recover from the stresses of additional alcohol consumption. But a new study shows that the benefits of Dry January could extend months past your time as a teetotaller.
However, the new study neglects another potential benefit of dry January: it could really improve your oral health.
Lose Weight, Save Money, and Sleep Better
This new study was performed by the University of Sussex. It assessed people immediately after their dry January in February and six months later in August.
The study showed a number of immediate benefits of dry January. Some of these were subjective, such as the sense of achievement felt by about 93% of participants or greater feelings of control over drinking felt by about 80% of participants.
Other benefits were more measurable. Most people (88%) reported that going dry saved them money. Others reported generally improved health (70%), better sleep (71%), and weight loss (58%).
The primary benefit researchers assessed in August was a reduction in alcohol consumption. Those who participated in dry January saw their average drinking days decrease from 4.3 per week to 3.3 per week. They also drank less on each drinking day: 7.1 units, down from 8.6 units. For scale, a unit calculator associated with Dry January says that four glasses of wine is 8.4 units. And these people reported being drunk less often, about 2 days a month now, instead of the 3.4 days a month before dry January.
Why Dry January Can Be Good for Your Teeth
But there’s another benefit of going dry in January that this study neglects: it can be good for your oral health. Alcohol can put your teeth and gums at risk, especially when consumed to excess.
Dehydration is a common experience if you consume alcohol in large amounts. This is bad because it can reduce your saliva production. Saliva kills oral bacteria and neutralizes the acids they produce, which protects your teeth from decay. Saliva also has minerals that can slowly repair your teeth. Without saliva, damaging bacteria are more free to multiply and attack your teeth.
Alcohol can also impact the community of bacteria living in your mouth. With more alcohol, helpful bacteria may struggle, while harmful bacteria multiply, which can increase your risk of cavities and gum disease.
Alcohol is only part of the problem when it comes to drinking. Another part is the acidity of alcoholic drinks. Most commercial alcohol is acidic enough to damage your teeth. Wines are the worst: some wines are as acidic as lemon juice! This can eat away at your enamel just the way oral bacteria do. And when you add citrus to liquor, the combination can be even worse. Mix in some sugary syrups and you’ve got a triple threat to your teeth.
So it’s no wonder that giving up alcohol for a month can be good for your teeth. And if you manage to permanently reduce or quit, that’s so much the better when it comes to your teeth.
Looking for a Dentist in Scripps Ranch?
Making diet and lifestyle changes like Dry January can help your oral health. But if you really want to make sure your teeth and gums are at their best, you need to see a skilled dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. We offer a wide range of preventive dentistry services. Restoring minor problems early can also help stave off major concerns or a need for emergency dentistry.
If you are looking for a dentist in Scripps Ranch, please call today for an appointment with Dr. G at Oasis Dental Arts. We can help preserve your beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime.