A study published in 2015 showed a link between frequent alcohol consumption and periodontal (gum) disease. This study, which was conducted in Brazil, took two groups of people—alcohol-dependent and nonusers/occasional users—and assessed plaque levels and rates of periodontitis.
The study found that those who consumed alcohol four times or more per week had higher levels of plaque on their teeth and more severe periodontitis than those who consumed alcohol less frequently or not at all. While more research is required to determine the exact link, there are a few ideas as to why alcohol might lead to higher instances of gum disease.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Ultimately, periodontitis comes down to one thing: bacteria. Certain types of bacteria in the mouth feed on leftover bits of food and multiply. Over time, these form a film of plaque on the teeth, which can eventually harden into tartar if left alone long enough.
When bacteria gets down to the periodontal tissue (in other words, the gums), the toxins it produces causes the gums to swell and detach from the tooth enamel. This results in pockets that form around the teeth, creating a little space where bacteria can easily continue accumulating and multiplying.
Eventually, this leads to decay of both teeth and jawbone, which can result in lost teeth if the disease isn’t treated.
How Alcohol Affects the Mouth
Alcohol has been shown to have a drying effect on the mouth, making it more difficult to wash away food product and ward off bacteria. Researchers suggest that this may be the reason why frequent alcohol consumption is linked to higher instances of gum disease. If the mouth can’t produce enough saliva, bacteria can multiply more freely, and periodontitis becomes more likely.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Limiting alcohol intake can certainly help preserve your dental health and ward off gum disease. However, there’s more you should do as well. Daily brushing and flossing coupled with regular visits to your dentist—such as Lynn Dental Care—is necessary to preserve your dental health.