Each year in January many people are intending to reduce their alcohol intake. In most cases this is to ‘counter balance’ against the large consumption of alcohol during the festive season. You’ll be aware of the health (and financial) benefits of doing this however, there are also some significant benefits to your oral health.
Acid erosion of external tooth surfaces (enamel)
Since most alcoholic drink are acidic and sugary, after drinking alcohol the mouth will remain in a low pH state (acidic) for many hours afterwards. During this state of low pH, the teeth are subjected to highly damaging acidity and as a result the outer surface of the teeth will undergo erosion. Over time this erosion can lead to excessive tooth surface loss and the development of more serious problems that can lead to tooth loss.
Mouth cancer is one of the few cancers that is actually increasing every year. This from of cancer is devastating and in the last year of records, over 33% of all mouth cancers in the UK were due to excessive alcohol consumption. A balanced lifestyle of an odd drink every now and again is fine however, excessive consumption is strongly linked with mouth cancer. In people who also smoke the risk of developing mouth cancer is increased by 20 times!
Poor oral hygiene
It is very common to find that most people neglect their normal tooth brushing technique at the end of a night of heavy drinking. The accumulation of plaque, acidic remnants from the alcohol and sugar can be extremely damaging to the tooth surface if oral hygiene is not performed thoroughly.
Tips for a healthier 2019
Ceasing alcohol consumption completely is not the ideal solution for most people and their are some simple ways to enjoy drinking in a safe manner. When mixing alcohol with non-alcoholic mixers, it can be extremely beneficial to use mixers that have less sugar or no sugar. This will significantly lower the overall sugar and acidic potential of the drink. Making a conscious effort to perform thorough oral hygiene after a drinking session is crucial to minimise the effects of alcohol related damage to your teeth.
I hope you have a happy and healthy 2019!
Mohsin Patel BDS MJDF RCS (Eng)