The Surprising Truth about Alcohol and Oral Health
Drinking alcohol occasionally and in moderate amounts can be considered a part of a healthy lifestyle. But consuming alcohol in heavy quantities can be directly linked to all kinds of short-term and long-term health hazards. Alcohol is known to have adverse effects on the health of your liver, brain, blood sugar, and like it or not, your mouth. Most people remain completely unaware of the effects of alcohol on your oral health until they run into some themselves.
In this blog, we are about to dissect the relationship between your oral health and alcohol. We are going to talk not only about how your heavy drinking habits can have significant impacts on your oral health causing tooth decay and gum diseases, but we will also discuss how even moderate amounts of alcohol can put you to risk.
What’s Considered “Normal”?
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention provides a definition for moderate alcohol consumption as one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men. This definition is meant to be limited to the amount of alcohol consumed in 24 hours and is not calculated as an average over several days. The one-drink or peg equivalent is calculated as 14 grams of pure alcohol.
Alcohol Consumption and Dental Health
Alcohol is known to cause dehydration in the body by inhibiting the production of a chemical known as ADH, which is known to regulate the amount of urine you excrete out. Consumption of alcohol primarily causes your kidneys to throw out way more water than it normally would, causing your body to dehydrate. It can cause atrophy of the salivary glands, thus significantly lowering your flow of saliva. That is one of the reasons why most people suffer certain degree of, what people popularly call dry mouth, scientifically known as xerostomia, post boozing.
Dry mouth or xerostomia serves the perfect ambience for periodontitis or gum disease. A gum disease is identified by the occurrence of bleeding gums, plaque, gum recession, infection, and the development of pockets where the gums pull away from the teeth. Gum disease has been directly linked to higher chances of cancer, diabetes, stroke or cardiac arrest, and heart disease.
A study published in the Journal of Periodontology focused on the negative effects of alcohol that can heavily and adversely affect the gum health. The study was conducted with 542 samples, which was a mixed bag comprising non-drinkers, occasional drinkers and alcoholics, with or without periodontitis. The final results showed:
Regular alcohol users without periodontitis were seen to experience more gum bleeding than non-drinkers.
Alcohol drinkers who already had periodontitis noticed a remarkable degradation in their condition with the increase in their frequency of consumption.
Alcohol consumers who did not struggle with existing gum disease had more plaque than non-drinkers.
Alcohol consumers who did not previously suffer from any gum diseases were seen to have more pockets between their teeth and gums, or larger pockets, more than the non-drinkers.
As the matter of fact, the research showed that even people who did not struggle with gum diseases were also seen to have a certain extent of negative impact on their dental and oral health.
The negative impact of alcohol is not just restricted to gum diseases and loosened gums. Alcoholics and consumers of alcohol are known to suffer from other hazard concerning their oral health. Besides suffering higher levels of plaque, regular alcohol consumers are thrice more susceptible to suffering from permanent tooth loss. Even of you are not a regular consumer of alcohol or are not dependent on it, it is important for you to understand the presence of alcohol in your mouth itself in more than enough to trigger tooth decay.
As previously discussed, alcohol caused dehydration. As a result, the flow of saliva inside your mouth dries up or decreases. Dry mouth is the ideal condition for the breeding of oral bacteria, because they are not getting automatically washed away by the saliva. This is one of the simplest explanations of why alcohol drinkers suffer from a higher amount of plaque, and higher chances of tooth decay.
If you want to relish a drink or two, we would recommend you to at least try to minimize the process of dehydration by sipping water in between at frequent intervals. The residual alcohol in the teeth, when left unwashed for a long time metabolizes into sugar, which provides the idea condition for the growth of oral bacteria. One way to prevent and counteract this process is to floss, brush, and use mouthwash every time you drink alcohol (or any sugary beverage, for that matter).
April is Alcohol Awareness Month!
As alcohol consumers, it is important that you understand how the alcohol interacts with and reacts in your mouth, so that you can make informed decisions about your oral health and dental hygiene. April, being the Alcohol Awareness Month, we wanted to inform you about the relationship between oral health and alcohol. Not many readers are aware of the kind of detrimental effects alcohol and have your teeth. The cons of smoking are widely talked about, but the ill effects of alcohol should be discussed too. We hope to empower them to make healthier decisions in their day-to-day life.
While drinking alcohol in moderation ( maximum of one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) likely won’t have a big negative effect on your teeth, it is important to know the risks associated with it. Individuals who suffer from alcohol abuse have higher plaque levels and an increased risk of periodontal disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and mouth sores. Furthermore, alcohol abuse increases your chances of oral cancer. Here are the three ways that alcohol harms your teeth.
The bacteria in your mouth devours sugar to survive and grow. So if you are sipping on sugary beverages , like cola or alcohol, you are literally feeding the bacteria and helping it thrive. The bacteria creates an acid inside your mouth that corrodes your teeth, weakening the enamel and causing tooth decay. Hence, if you really want to have alcoholic beverages, try drinking alcohol with less sugar content like dry wine.
we have discussed the relationship between dry mouth with oral health at length. Alcohol causes the mouth to dry up and restrict the flow of saliva. The flow of saliva is inversely proportional to the risk of tooth decay. Saliva plays an important role in maintaining the oral hygiene by washing away the bacteria. When you have dry mouth, the bacteria remains on the enamel and makes the teeth more susceptible to decay. Dry mouth can also cause bad breath. If you are boozing, make sure to stay hydrated. Drink water at regular intervals. You can also take to chewing sugar free gums to replenish the flow of the saliva.
Alcoholic beverages with deep hues like sangria, red wine or port wine can turn your teeth red and cause irreversible or long-lasting discoloration. These alcoholic beverages when poured on light coloured clothes, leave behind a permanent stain. So, you can easily imagine the kind of effect it is going to have on your pearly whites You can try to mitigate the effects of these dark coloured alcoholic beverages by munching on food while you booze and chewing sugar-free gum after drinking alcohol to bring your saliva levels back to normal.
Only by properly brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and if possible twice a day, as well as getting professional dental cleanings and check-ups every 6 months, can help bring down the risk of dental problems that comes along with the consumption of alcohol.
Accidental dental trauma
Consumption of heavy amounts of alcohol multiplies the chances of an accidental dental trauma or facial injury, a fall or traffic accident, for instance.