St. Patrick’s Day is famous for green beer, Irish food, and celebrations with friends, but did you know it’s also one of the top times of the year for emergency dental visits? We’ll tell you why in this post, and we’ll also describe the long-term risks for your dental health related to partying and drinking.
Post-St. Patrick’s Day Dental Emergencies
Between 2008 and 2015, the day after St. Patrick’s Day showed a 77 percent rise in emergency dental care visits. This holds true for both men and women between the ages of 30 and 65, so it’s not a man thing or a woman thing. In some states, the rate is 100 percent higher than normal.
Why does this happen?
The main reason is probably pretty obvious. Lots of people drink on St. Patrick’s Day. Many of them drink way more than they should. When people drink too much, their judgment and coordination are negatively affected.
In short, drunk people are prone to falling on their faces and getting into fistfights, situations which often lead to the need for emergency dental care.
So the best way to avoid St. Patrick’s Day dental accidents is to curb your drinking. Decide your drinking limit before you begin and plan for a safe way home. Eat food while you’re drinking, because it will help absorb the alcohol. Drink water as well, to flush the alcohol from your system as soon as possible.
Even if you don’t suffer a dental accident on St. Patrick’s Day, the indulgences of the holiday can impact your oral health in other ways. Here are some things you can do to protect your oral health from the long-term effects of drinking.
Brush and Floss Regularly
When you’ve had too much to drink, it can be easier to neglect your regular brushing and flossing routine. This is important, because alcohol use can promote tooth decay.
Don’t let the bacteria sit on your teeth overnight. Cavities and gum disease may result. Too much alcohol can also cause inflammation in your gums and the rest of your body. Protect against gum inflammation with daily dental hygiene habits.
Watch Your Calories
Alcohol is full of empty calories, especially if it’s mixed with soft drinks or fruit juices. Some studies indicate that people with higher percentages of body fat are prone have faster-progressing gum disease, which can cause many oral health problems. Limiting your alcohol intake will help your waistline and your mouth.
Protect Your Sleep Rhythms
Drinking too much disrupts the quality of your sleep, which affects all parts of your body, including your mouth. Sleep is the time when your body rebuilds cells, and if you’re not getting enough sleep, your gums and teeth can suffer. Enjoy only a couple drinks at a time, and your sleep won’t suffer.
Forego the Ice
If you chew on the ice that’s in your drink, you’re putting your teeth at risk. Ice can crack your teeth, which may require extensive dental treatment. Let the ice cool your drink, but don’t chew on it to keep your teeth protected.
Skip the Acid
If your drink contains citrus juice, or if you prefer drinking beer, you’re filling your mouth with acid every time you drink. Acid is known to wear down tooth enamel and invite cavities. The more acid in your mouth, the higher your plaque levels may be, since plaque feeds on acid. Too much plaque can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss.
It’s best to limit your exposure to acid, and swish with water to neutralize the acid’s impact on your teeth.
Look Out for Stains
Colored alcoholic drinks, red wine, and dark beers cause stains on your teeth. You can sip some drinks with a straw to minimize the risk. Rinse your mouth with water between drinks to keep stains at bay. Also, it’s important to keep regular dental cleaning appointments to remove stains.
Prevent Tooth Erosion
Acid reflux and vomiting are often linked to alcohol use. When the acids from your stomach enter your mouth on a regular basis, tooth erosion may occur. This causes weakening and discoloration of your teeth, which can only be fixed with cosmetic dental procedures.
Alcohol has a drying effect on your mouth. Your mouth needs to stay hydrated so the bacteria is kept in check and decay is slowed. Dry mouth often leads to tooth loss, so it’s important for you to keep your mouth hydrated with water.
Stick to the Guidelines
The recommended limit is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Stick to those guidelines to protect yourself from many diseases, and remember that prolonged alcohol use puts you at elevated risk for oral and mouth cancer. It’s important to keep regular dental visits to catch problems before they get out of hand.
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