It’s no secret that excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on your overall health. But what you may not know is that it can also take a toll on your oral health – and in some cases, it can be quite serious. In this blog post, we’ll define moderate vs. excessive alcohol consumption and discuss the ways alcohol can harm your teeth and gums.
Moderate vs. Excessive: Where is the line?
When it comes to alcohol consumption, there is a big difference between drinking in moderation and drinking excessively. In most cases, moderate alcohol consumption does not have an adverse effect on overall health, while excessive alcohol consumption can be highly detrimental.
However, not everyone knows the difference between moderate and excessive alcohol consumption. To make things easier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has defined moderate alcohol consumption as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. The CDC also defines heavy drinking as more than eight drinks per week for women and more than fifteen drinks per week for men.
How Alcohol Affects Your Oral Health
Now that we know the difference between moderate and excessive alcohol consumption, let’s look at the effect that alcohol can have on your oral health. While these effects can be seen in both moderate and heavy drinkers, they tend to be more severe in people who consume more alcohol. Overall, alcohol consumption can lead to a number of oral health problems, including:
Tooth decay and cavities
Alcohol breaks down into sugar, which can cause tooth decay and cavities. This is because these sugars feed the bacteria in your mouth and allow them to deposit acidic waste on your tooth enamel. Overtime, this acidic waste will erode the enamel and can lead to cavities. The sugars in alcohol can also cause excess plaque formation. Plaque is a sticky film that coats your teeth and gums, and if it isn’t removed regularly through brushing and flossing, it can also cause tooth decay and cavities.
Alcohol consumption can also lead to gum disease, a condition that causes inflammation and irritation of the gums. This is thought to be due to a change in the amounts of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the mouth. According to a recent study, people who drink more have more “bad” bacteria than “good” bacteria, which makes it more likely that they will develop gum disease or make existing gum disease worse.
Another common side effect of alcohol consumption is dry mouth. This occurs when there isn’t enough saliva to keep the mouth wet, and it is caused partially by dehydration and the fact that alcohol decreases saliva production. Since saliva is responsible for regulating bacteria levels and cleaning the mouth, dry mouth can lead to a number of oral health problems, including cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
So what can you do to protect your oral health?
The best way to prevent negative effects of alcohol on your oral health is to drink in moderation. If you do choose to drink alcohol, make sure to brush your teeth and floss regularly, and avoid sipping on sugary drinks. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Finally, if you are experiencing any oral health problems, see your dentist for treatment.
Alcohol consumption can be detrimental to your oral health in a number of ways, and it is important that you know the difference between moderate and excessive drinking. Moderate alcohol consumption does not usually cause significant problems for teeth or gums, but heavy drinkers will experience more severe effects due to the increased intake of sugar from alcoholic beverages. If you would like more information about alcohol and its effects on oral health, please contact Glow Dental today.
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.