Do you like to enjoy an occasional beer, cocktail, or glass of wine? Many people do. There is nothing wrong with indulging in an adult beverage once in a while, but it is important to be aware of what might happen if you overdo it. Not only can excessive alcohol consumption endanger your overall health, but it could also put your smile at risk. In fact, it could even increase your chances of developing gum disease! Read on below to learn some details about this important topic.
How Alcohol Affects Your Mouth
When you consume alcohol, it hinders the production of an important chemical known as ADH. ADH is responsible for regulating how much urine your body excretes. Therefore, people who drink tend to pee large amounts and become dehydrated. Dehydration, in turn, can reduce saliva production and contribute to a dry mouth.
Unfortunately, a dry mouth provides the ideal breeding ground for harmful oral bacteria. Without adequate saliva to rinse them away, they can easily multiple and foster an increase of dental plaque and a greatly increased risk of gum disease.
Dehydration is not the only way through which alcohol could affect your smile. Many adult beverages have lots of sugar. When sugar combines with bacteria in your mouth, it increases plaque and thereby puts your gum health (and your teeth) at risk!
What Does the Research Say?
A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Periodontology looked at the drinking habits and oral health of 542 people. The subjects included non-drinkers, occasional drinkers, and regular drinkers. Some of them had periodontitis (an advanced gum disease), while others did not.
The study found that alcohol users with periodontitis experienced a worsening in their gum health that was correlated with the amount they drank.
The research also noted that even among people without periodontitis, drinking can be detrimental to oral health. Drinkers were more likely to have large pockets between the gums and teeth, more gum bleeding, and greater amounts of plaque on their teeth.
Preventing Gum Disease
Should you completely abstain from alcohol in order to prevent gum disease? Not necessarily. In fact, small amounts of red wine could actually benefit your smile because it contains chemical compounds known as polyphenols, which are known to help ward off gum disease and tooth decay.
The key to drinking without endangering your gum health is moderation. Enjoy alcoholic beverages in small amounts. An average woman should not have more than one alcoholic drink a day, while most men should limit themselves to two servings.
Here are some other things you can do to protect your smile:
- Drink water to rehydrate yourself after you consume alcohol.
- Brush your teeth 30 – 60 minutes after you finish a drink. This is especially important if your beverage contained a lot of juice, sugar, or other sweet substances.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup.
- Be aware of the signs of gum disease, such as swelling and bleeding, and seek professional care as soon as you notice that something is wrong.
Alcohol could ruin your gum health! Be careful about how much you drink so you can keep your smile in great shape.
Meet the Practice
New Haven Dental Group in Branford proudly provides comprehensive oral care services to our community. If you have questions about how to prevent gum disease, or you are looking for gum disease treatment, we are ready to assist you. Contact our office at 203-439-6895.