It’s reported that this year 1 in 5 adults took part in Dry January, the popular campaign to stop drinking alcohol for the entire first month of the year.
The push comes at a time when most of us have indulged more than we normally would (whose December isn’t filled with champagne, mulled wine, eggnog and Baileys?), and has proved a popular way to kick start the year.
Starting out in 2013 with just 4000 participants, by 2021 had that figure had risen to a whopping 130,000. What’s really interesting though, is the retention rate. 77% of people who participated last year pledged to do the same again in 2022. Not just that, many continue to cut down their drinking habits into February and beyond.
So, what’s the secret? Why when so many of us struggle to stick to New Year’s resolutions, does Dry January not only inspire success but see us extending the end goal?
To find out, the Harley Street Smile Clinic take a look at the impact alcohol can have on physical, mental and oral health. A quick read and we’re confident you’ll be keen to start cutting back too…
How does alcohol affect health?
Alcohol is a contributing factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including:
- mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers
- high blood pressure
- cirrhosis of the liver
2018 figures show that in England alone, there were over 314,000 potential years of life lost related to alcohol consumption.
But it’s not just your physical and mental health impacted by drinking. Oral health can suffer too.
How does alcohol affect your smile?
Alcohol and teeth don’t mix. Just some of the problems alcohol can cause are:
- Gum disease – gum disease is a result of bacteria growing in the mouth. And what do these bacteria love? The sugars found in alcohol. Drink too much and you’re actively feeding the bacteria, which will lead to irritated gums and problems such as swelling, bleeding and bad breath.
- Decay – alcoholic drinks have a high sugar content and are often highly acidic. Over time this erodes the enamel on teeth and can quickly lead to tooth decay, pain and sensitivity.
- Staining – red wine, dark beers and garish alcopops are all guilty of tainting the pearly whiteness of teeth.
- Dryness – alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it promotes water loss. And less water means less saliva, which is essential for keeping the mouth moist and preventing plaque and bacteria from building up on the surface of teeth.
- Other damage – like your drink on the rocks or served long with ice and a slice? It may taste good, but the added citrus from lemon can play havoc with tooth enamel. And chances are, once the drink has gone, you’ll be tempted to chew on the leftover ice too, risking a cracked or chipped tooth.
How much alcohol should you be having?
According to the NHS, both men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis. That’s the equivalent of 6 pints of average strength beer and 10 small glasses of wine.
That’s the maximum advised. The ideal is none.
That said, no one wants to put the brakes on a good time, and it may be that going ‘dry’ just isn’t for you. But even a few changes can make a difference.
Drop to one pint instead of two. Try switching to non-alcoholic versions of your favourite tipple – these days there’s a great range of reduced or non-alcoholic wines and beers available – and don’t forget the water! Sipping water in between alcoholic drinks helps to wash away some of the sugar and weakens the intensity of the acid ‘attack’ on teeth…your head will also be grateful in the morning!
Drink less. Smile more
It’s simple really. The effect of drinking less alcohol has the power to enhance your mood and improve your health – inside and out.
As you start to see and feel signs of improved health – weight loss, glossier hair, improved skin, whiter teeth – your confidence will surge. Making you feel all-around more healthy, energetic and positive.
Add to this the fact that drinking less will also help to save you money and it’s no surprise that those who commit to Dry January often adopt the changes full time.
Worried your teeth have already been adversely affected by alcohol or just want a smile you feel is worth looking after? We can help.
At the Harley Street Smile Clinic, we offer a range of cosmetic dental procedures aimed at improving smile problems and banishing imperfections. Our signature treatment – the mini smile makeover – is a popular way to give your smile a quick refresh. We also offer full smile makeovers, veneers, Invisalign and many other treatments. Why not take a look at the great range of cosmetic dental procedures we provide and contact the team to find out more?