There are a multitude of different effects that alcohol has on your body, including on your mouth. While the occasional drink won’t have a significant impact on your oral health, heavy drinking can have nasty results for your teeth and gums. Some oral health problems can be directly linked to the contents of most alcoholic beverages, but other effects are brought about by additional factors often associated with heavy drinking.
The Beverage Itself
Alcoholic beverages themselves can be problematic for teeth. This is partly due to the high sugar content found in most alcoholic beverages, but other factors have their effect as well:
- Acidic environment: Sugars break down in the mouth to create a highly acidic environment. This makes it an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which then leads to cavities and other oral diseases.
- Weakened enamel: The frequent intake of alcohol also demineralizes tooth enamel, which will weaken it and allow bacteria to chew deeper into your teeth.
- Slower healing: Alcohol can prevent the mouth from healing properly after oral surgery since it irritates oral tissue.
In addition to the direct effects that alcohol has on the mouth, it can easily combine with other substances and factors to make things even worse. A few examples of this are:
- Binge drinking and vomiting: Consuming large quantities of alcohol is often accompanied by vomiting. This results in high amounts of acid in the mouth, which will eat away at tooth enamel as well as lead to increased levels of bacteria. If the drinker happens to pass out, then the acid, alcohol, and sugar in the mouth is left unattended.
- Poor oral hygiene habits: Often, heavy drinking can get in the way of normal oral health care such as brushing and flossing. This has obvious implications for your overall oral health.
- Drinking and tobacco use: It has been shown that those who use both alcohol and tobacco excessively have increased rates of oral cancer. This is partly because alcoholic beverages dry out the cells in the mouth, which makes it easier for substances in tobacco to affect them and cause cancer.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Heavy drinkers don’t often get the amount of nutrients they need, including antioxidants. In addition to other problems, this increases the risk of cancer, including that of the mouth.
One of the deadliest risks associated with excessive drinking is oral cancer. Regular drinking on its own makes you several times more likely to develop oral cancer, so it is best to limit your consumption.
Protecting Your Mouth
In order to keep your mouth in top shape, drink only in moderation. When you consume alcohol, be sure to keep up with your oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing. Also, swishing water between drinks can help you by washing away residual sugars.
In addition to moderate consumption and regular hygiene, visiting your dentist regularly will allow you to head off serious problems, including those associated with cancer and enamel erosion. In order to keep up on your oral health, contact Lynn Dental Care today. We will help you keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy.