Dental Health Blog

3 Negative effects Drinking Alcohol has on your Oral Health

Drinking alcohol on a night out with the girls/guys can be fun but detrimental to your oral health. What happens to your teeth and gums when you consume liquor?

1. Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the scariest oral health concerns today. People are dying after finding symptoms too late. What is oral cancer? It is the spreading of cancerous cells on the lining of your lips, cheeks, gums, teeth, tongue and oral cavity.

According to the American Dental Association, 10,030 people’s lives may get claimed this year alone if oral cancer is not detected early enough and treated. Going to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings will allow your dentist to identify cancer symptoms. Early detection is the key giving you a higher chance to avoid a literally deadly outcome.

Alcohol consumption puts you at risk for developing oral cancer. The more you drink, the higher your risk becomes.

What are the 3 main reasons alcohol is suspected to cause cancer?

1. Acetaldehyde:

Alcohol turns into a chemical when entering your body. The chemical, acetaldehyde, damages DNA and stops your cells from repairing the damage.

2. Hormone Changes:

Alcohol can increase some of your hormones, giving your cells off-kilter instructions on when to grow and divide.

3. Increased Absorption:

Alcohol may affect the cells between your throat and mouth, making it easier for carcinogens (substances that cause cancer in living tissue) to be absorbed.

It is important to answer your dentist honestly when they ask about your alcohol consumption levels. Your dentist can adjust your treatments to correlate with your lifestyle. Your honest answers allow the dentist to give you the best oral care possible.

2. Tooth Decay

With alcohol consumption comes the ingestion of sugars and acids. Alcohol has a corrosive nature, breaking down the enamel of your teeth from the sugary acidic components in your drink.

Saliva production naturally protects your teeth from erosion. Alcohol counteracts the regulation of saliva and makes you dehydrated. Exposing your teeth to alcohol on a regular basis puts your oral health in jeopardy. The more you drink, the higher the risk you will encounter cavities due to eroding teeth.

The lower the level of PH in your drink, the more likely you will have tooth erosion. PH levels range from 0-14, the lower the number the higher the level of acidity. Sweet sugary drinks usually rank low on the scale. Tooth enamel starts to dissolve around the PH level of 5.5 so beware of this when sipping your happy hour cocktail.

Your dentist can suggest many ways to help you avoid tooth decay and it all starts with an oral exam.

3. Bad Breath

Halitosis, also known as bad breath can be caused by alcoholism. Many drinkers have bad breath. Alcohol damages your digestive system and interferes with stomach acid creating a nasty stench.

Alcohol gets treated as a toxin by your body and it will try to convert the alcohol to a less damaging chemical by producing more acid than usual. This reaction can cause gastritis, a condition where your stomach lining becomes inflamed. Liquor also irritates and inflames the stomach lining leading to bleeding of the stomach and ulcers. The increased acid produced by your body affects your teeth and gums by wearing them away. Habitual alcohol consumption eats away at your cells and your health.

It is important that your dentist treat you with respect so you feel comfortable discussing your alcohol use. Open communication leads to timely, effective control of issues that may result from alcohol consumption.

Stoney Trail Dental is a dentist's office with understanding and knowledge. Have more questions about your oral health and alcohol? Don’t be afraid to ask at your next dentist appointment. You can even go to Stoney Trail Dental for an oral cancer screening where your dentist will specifically look for signs of oral cancer and help aid this issue if found early enough.


Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grewal - a Registered Dentist on May 17, 2019

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