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Wildwood Dental Blog

Alcohol and its toll on oral health

We all know drinking can damage our bodies, whether it’s our liver or stomach lining, but did you know alcohol abuse can prove harmful to our oral heath as well?

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and our Wildwood Dental team warns that alcohol can do some serious damage.

For starters, heavy alcohol consumption is the second most common risk factor after tobacco for an often-silent killer - oral cancer. Each year in the United States, it's estimated that more than 48,000 people will get diagnosed with oral cancer, and nearly 10,000 will die from this disease. According to the American Cancer Society, about 70 percent of oral cancer patients consume alcohol frequently.

Additionally, people with alcohol-related issues tend to neglect other healthy habits such as eating properly or taking care of daily oral hygiene. In fact, a study conducted at an alcohol rehab center found that residents had a higher incidence of periodontal (gum) disease and cavities because of their neglect.

On the flip side, some studies do show a heart protective association for low-to-moderate alcohol consumption. Sipping antioxidant-rich red wine may be beneficial for lowering cholesterol and helping prevent clogging of arteries.

Drinking in general is best done in moderation for your overall health and for your oral health.

To limit the damage done to your teeth due to alcohol consumption, follow these five simple tips:

  • Drink through a straw when possible to prevent acidic alcohol from touching your teeth.

  • Rinse your mouth out with water every so often while drinking to increase the saliva flow and rinse away sugars and acids in your mouth.

  • Do not chew the leftover ice in your drink, as this can damage your teeth.

  • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow and clear the mouth of harmful sugars and acid.

  • Make sure to floss and brush before bed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heavy drinking for men is typically defined as consuming 15 or more drinks per week and eight drinks per week for women.

If you have questions about alcohol and your oral health, please schedule an appointment with us by calling 425.481.1889.

Learn more about oral health as we share information on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about smile-friendly tips as we share on Facebook and Twitter or call us at 425.481.1889 to schedule an appointment.


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