We often hear about the effects of alcohol on our overall health, but what are the effects specifically to our oral health?
- Oral Cancer: Not many people are aware that after tobacco, alcohol is the second highest contributor to oral cancers. When both substances are in play it is particularly risky, as alcohol drys the mouth and leaves it more vulnerable to the carcinogens in tobacco. People who use both tobacco and alcohol may increase their risk up to 15 times than those who do not.
- Chronic Dry Mouth:. Many of us experience dry mouth when drinking alcohol every so often. However, when consumed regularly and in large amounts, it may cause your salivary glands to swell and lessen the production of saliva. If this occurs frequently, a chronic dry mouth can cause tooth decay and allow the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.
- Erosion & Discolouration: Many alcohols, such as wines contain acids that can erode and discolour your teeth, increasing their sensitivity and altering their appearance. Other alcohols contain large amounts of sugar which can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
So, what can we do to lower the risks?
- Drink Water in Between Sips: This will help wash away any acids or sugars from the mouth and assist in preventing erosion and tooth decay. It will also help keep you and your mouth hydrated.
- Chew Sugar-Free Gum: Throughout the night, chewing on sugar-free gum can assist in saliva production, which will help to fight any acids and sugars in the mouth.