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Drinking Alcohol Can Severely Impact Your Gum Health

Posted on 5/27/2017 by David Mugford
A close up of a man suffering from severe dry mouth.
Occasional drinking is often considered to be fine, if you lead a relatively healthy lifestyle. However, alcohol in general is bad for your health, especially if you drink excessively.

It has a number of negative short-term and long-term effects on many different parts of your body, including your liver, your blood sugar and your brain. Alcohol can even severely impact the health of your gums.

Irritation of Gum Tissue

When constantly exposed to alcohol, your gums can become very irritated. This is due to the acids and the sugars found in it. Over time, this irritation can lead to inflammation, which then causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, leaving open spaces for food particles and bacteria to get trapped underneath.

Dry Mouth

Your saliva plays an important role in your gum health. Not only does it keep your mouth moist and aid in digestion, it also contains enzymes that kill dangerous oral bacteria. Alcohol dries out your mouth, and interferes with the production of saliva. Without sufficient saliva, bacteria have the perfect environment in which to grow and attack your gums.

Poor Oral Hygiene Habits

Those who drink, particularly in excess, are more likely to have poorer lifestyle habits, such as poor nutrition, not exercising and poor oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing are essential for the health of your teeth and gums. Without them, plaque and bacteria are free to grow and wreak havoc within your mouth.

Gum Disease

As a result of all the above issues, alcohol can then significantly raise your risk for gum disease. Gum disease is a serious condition that starts out as a bacterial attack on just your gums. As it progresses, and your gums become inflamed, bacteria fall below the gum line and attacks teeth and bone. Your gums recede and your teeth may become loose and even fall out.

Increased Risk for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious cancer, that is fatal if not detected and treated early on. While tobacco use is a huge contributing factor, with upwards of 90% of all oral cancer patients being tobacco users in the past. Excessive alcohol use is also linked to an increased risk of oral cancer, with up to 80% of oral cancer patients being drinkers. And if you smoke and drink, your risk increases almost 100-fold.

Excessive drinking can quickly lead to many health problems, including gum disease. Brushing and flossing regularly are key to the prevention of gum disease, as are regular visits to your dentist, but drinking can negate your efforts.

And if you need help quitting drinking, there are plenty of available resources, and your dentist can help to point you in the right direction.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about alcohol's effects on your oral health.
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