Whether you indulge in a night out on the town or a glass of wine at dinner, the price you pay for imbibing could be higher than you realize. Even moderate alcohol use can result in a dry mouth after drinking, causing oral issues and other health problems – possibly setting off a chain reaction in your system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that almost a quarter of the American population overdoes it in regard to alcohol at least once a year. And if you feel parched after a night of drinking, here's what might be happening.
Effects on Your Mouth
The main reason for developing xerostomia (or a dry mouth) after drinking is that alcohol acts as a diuretic. This means as your body breaks down alcohol, it removes the water from your blood through your urine, according to the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking. Consuming alcohol means you'll be urinating more, with about four alcoholic drinks leading to the release of around one quart of urine. Heavier drinkers spend an increased amount of time in a dehydrated state, which raises their risk of developing side effects from dehydration – including dry mouth and other related health problems.
The presence of saliva plays an important role in your oral health, which includes controlling the pH balance of your mouth, washing out food residue, lubricating the oral cavity and keeping its soft tissues healthy. It also helps to limit the growth of bacteria through antimicrobial properties, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Keep in mind the absence of adequate saliva when your mouth is dry can lead to the presence of plaque, oral candidiasis and gum disease, as well as tooth loss and decay. Plaque and gum disease, specifically, can produce other health issues or exacerbate existing conditions like diabetes. And as you might know firsthand, dry mouth can cause difficulty swallowing and tongue irritation.
Prevention and Treatment
Depending on the reason for your dry mouth, you may not be able to prevent it entirely. However, avoiding alcohol will help you isolate and identify the culprit. If you do drink, intersperse your alcoholic beverages with glasses of water to reduce the diuretic effects. Dry mouth problems can also cause you to develop mouth sores, for example, in which case Colgate® Peroxyl® Mouth Sore Rinse can keep your soft oral tissues from becoming irritated until your saliva flow returns to normal. You can also use dental products formulated for dry mouth issues.