Alcohol & Your Mouth

March is known for many things – the Ides, the spring Equinox, but the most remarkable is St. Patrick’s Day. And St. Patrick’s Day is known for its green beer!

A little tipple may be good for you, but what about a lot? The usual risks of cognitive impairment, addiction, and cirrhosis are fairly well known, as are the societal costs of alcoholism. However, as in most things, the negative impact on the mouth is lesser known.

Chronic alcohol users have more cavities, missing and filled teeth. They also have more root canal treated teeth. Alcohol being acidic also increases the erosion of the teeth. Erosion wears away the enamel that can lead to several problems – some of them quite costly.

Periodontitis, that is, gum disease is also more prevalent. This means foul breathe, loose teeth, tooth supporting bone loss with eventual loss of teeth. Gum disease has been linked to general illnesses ranging from heart disease to cognitive decline.

Chronic alcohol users have more frequent oral lesions than their counterpart occasional tipplers.  The lesions tend to be precursors to cancers and other significant diseases. One of the less than pleasant symptoms usually experienced first thing in the morning is known as abstinence or withdrawal syndrome also known as the toothbrush heaves.

So the ideal thing is to reduce your risk. Yes, much easier to say than to do. However it’s all about moderation, the golden mean, or what your mother always told you.

Limit your amount of alcohol consumption.

Brush and Floss daily: Brush at least twice a day especially before bed because that is when we have a reduction in saliva production. Saliva is protective and restorative in nature, but if we have been eating and drinking all day (feeding the biofilm bacteria in our mouths) the decreased saliva flow permits the bacteria to do their worst over night.

Use a good fluoride toothpaste or one that is specifically formulated for erosion.

Keep your dental appointments: Regular dental appointments can help you avoid gum disease, bone loss and decay. Serious diseases can be spotted early preventing suffering and hardship.

If you suspect that you may have a problem or an addiction to alcohol. We encourage you to seek counseling.

Oral Wellness, Whole health is a conscious choice like a healthy relationship with alcohol.


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