We all know that consuming alcohol in large quantities can not only affect your liver, digestion, and skin, but it can also affect your oral health. While moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle, alcohol isn’t generally considered healthy. Part of its mixed reputation comes from both the short- and long-term effects it has on your body and your health. Believe it or not, drinking too much alcohol can have a substantial impact on our oral health. It can lead to a range of diseases from tooth decay to mouth cancer. Studies have found that compared to non-drinkers, those who had one or more alcoholic drinks per day saw a reduction of healthy bacteria in the mouth, with a significant increase of harmful bacteria also detected. Studies show that almost one in five people that drink occasionally display signs of severe gum disease.
In a nutshell, our mouths contain billions of bacteria, both beneficial as well as those that can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, plaque buildup, and bad breath. There is a constant battle taking place in your mouth between these two teams who have opposite goals. The beneficial bacteria work 24/7 throughout the mouth by producing beneficial proteins, which prevent the overpopulation of the bad bacteria. Alcohol is a risk factor for oral and other cancers, cardiovascular disease, liver cirrhosis, and trauma. The risk of oral cancer is six times higher in those who drink alcohol compared to non-drinkers. In order to maintain a healthy mouth, make sure you keep your alcohol and sugar intake to a minimum.
When it comes to your oral health, even a tiny imbalance in the oral microbiome can lead to many oral care problems, including bad breath, dry mouth, tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. Moisture in the mouth helps good bacteria flourish, and many of the negative effects of alcohol could stem from causing dry mouth. Saliva performs many valuable functions including the prevention of bad breath, and tooth decay, by buffering oral acids and the delivery of valuable minerals to keep teeth and gums healthy. Consequently, alcohol, whether in adult beverages or mouthwash, may wreak havoc on the fragile balance of the oral microbiome.
However, potential health concerns don’t end with the mouth. According to researchers, evidence has shown that an imbalance of oral bacteria is linked to mouth diseases like cavities. It may be connected to more generalized diseases as well, including gastrointestinal cancer and cardiovascular disease. Bleeding gums are an exposed wound site, which can then allow oral bacteria and their associated toxins to enter the bloodstream. Numerous studies have shown a strong link between bleeding gums and medical issues such as increased heart attacks, strokes, erectile dysfunction, and even premature low birth weight in babies because these toxins can even cross the placenta.
The easiest way to diminish the negative effects of alcohol on the mouth is by increasing your water intake. After drinking alcohol, simply take a sip. Drinking water helps wash away any residual alcohol from the tongue and oral tissue, and throughout the day, make sure to drink about 48 ounces of water to help replenish saliva. Another way to keep your mouth healthy is to look for a mouthwash that is alcohol-free since it is proven to be beneficial to the oral microbiome. When it comes to toothpaste, buy one with gentle ingredients, like aloe vera, and avoid those that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. He said it is a harsh detergent that creates foam when you brush, but that has been linked to painful canker sores. Dentists suggest to also use a soft-bristled toothbrush, as well as flossing regularly. There is no better way to get rid of food particles stuck between your teeth, which act as a fuel source for oral bacteria. So next time you’re contemplating on having one more drink, take into consideration that you may be affecting your oral health while doing so.