Impact of Alcohol on Oral Health

How Alcohol Impacts Your Oral Health

As the weather begins to warm and spring begins to blossom around us, we begin to daydream about all the fun that comes with the approaching months—enjoying outdoor concerts with our friends, attending garden parties and weddings, barbecues, and festivals. With many of these fun-filled activities comes the invitation to imbibe in the occasional cocktail, beer, or glass of wine. In moderation, these treats are fine. As with most body systems, a small amount of alcohol on occasion is probably nothing to worry about when it comes to your mouth. However, when alcohol consumption becomes excessive, it can potentially lead to serious oral health risks.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay

Many alcoholic drinks carry a double-whammy for your teeth: sugar and high acid content. This combination can spell trouble if you’re enjoying regular rounds, especially if your drink of choice is mixed with soda or juice. Not only that, but alcohol can inhibit our ability (or desire) to practice proper oral hygiene after a night out. Regular evenings spent throwing back highsugar, acidic drinks and skipping brushing and flossing can quickly lead to increased tooth decay.

Delayed Healing

If you have oral surgery, alcohol must be avoided during the healing process. Alcohol can irritate sensitive oral tissues, which can delay and impair their ability to heal.

Increased Risk of Periodontal Disease

Alcohol abusers tend to have a much higher rate of periodontal disease, or gum disease, than people who do not imbibe. Periodontal disease can come with a host of complications, including tooth loss, the loss of bone tissue, and an increased risk of heart disease.

Increased Risk of Oral Cancer

The Oral Cancer Foundation clearly acknowledges the impact that alcohol has on the risk of developing oral cancer, due to its dehydrating nature, association with nutritional deficiencies, and changes in the textures of the soft tissues of the mouth and throat that occur in patients with cirrhosis of the liver.

Enjoy your drinks in moderation, be sure to drink plenty of water while you do, and follow up with proper oral hygiene at the end of the evening. If you are concerned about excessive drinking, or damage to your mouth from alcoholic beverages, please speak with your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.

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Dr. Terry Brewick happily serves patients in the Governor’s Park neighborhood of Denver, CO.