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The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Oral Health

Posted on 10/31/2023 by Dr. Darren Huddleston
Image of a woman touching her cheek that could have oral cancer.Moderate alcohol intake is common for many adults as an enjoyable way to unwind and connect socially. However, alcohol impacts oral health in numerous ways that require awareness and some preventive adaptations to oral hygiene routines. Understanding the effects of alcohol enables maintaining oral wellness.

Dehydration and Dry Mouth

Alcohol suppresses anti-diuretic hormones, causing fluid loss and dehydration. Chronic dry mouth increases tooth decay, gum disease, halitosis, and tissue irritation risks. Drinking water during and between drinks counters dehydration. Alcohol-free oral moisturizing rinses also bring relief.

Diminished Salivary Flow

Alcohol directly inhibits salivary gland production. With less cleansing saliva, bacteria grow rapidly. Binge drinking is especially damaging, enabling exponential plaque accumulation. However, practicing consistently thorough oral hygiene can counteract decreased salivary flow before permanent harm occurs.

Gum Diseases and Tooth Decay

Periodontal diseases and dental caries frequently occur in heavy drinkers due to deficient saliva, poor hygiene, and neglected care. Visiting your dentist helps identify and promptly treat any alcohol-related oral disease before extensive repairs become necessary.

Oral and Pharyngeal Cancers

Chronic alcohol use synergistically with tobacco strongly increases oral, mouth, and throat cancer risks. Regular dental exams enable early detection and prompt treatment if any suspicious lesions arise. Ceasing tobacco use and limiting alcohol are key preventive steps.

Acid Erosion of Enamel

Beverage acids also erode enamel over time. Wine, beer, and cocktails contain acids that weaken tooth structure. Swishing with water in between alcoholic drinks counteracts erosive effects. Moderation and avoiding swishing alcohol around the teeth also help minimize acid exposure.

Supporting Overall Wellbeing

Your dentist and doctor want to support your best outcomes. Honest discussion allows compassionate guidance regarding healthier alcohol habits and oral self-care steps to protect your smile and keep it bright. Prioritizing oral and whole-body wellness remains the priority.

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