Festive Alcohol Consumption – Link To Oral Health
A few too many drinks at Christmas and New Year could have a negative impact on your teeth and gums….
After the restrictions imposed due to Covid last year, most of us will be hoping that we can have a relatively normal family Christmas this year. Despite the pressure of buying presents, planning dinners and social events, the fact is that when the day arrives, we relax and think that it was ‘all worth it’.
One thing that many of us enjoy doing at this festive time of the year is letting ourselves go a little, and eating and drinking in a way that we probably don’t for the rest of the year.
As well as eating more food than usual, a big part of many people’s Christmas and new year celebrations includes the consumption of more alcoholic drinks than they would normally. There is no doubt that having a few drinks can contribute to a good time, but alcohol can also have a detrimental effect on the health of your teeth and gums.
Our Foxhall Dental Practice team takes a look at a few of the problems that alcohol can cause for your oral health below.
One of the most common problems caused by alcohol that can negatively impact your teeth and gums is gum disease. Many of you will have experienced a dry mouth after drinking and this often is most noticeable in the morning. As your mouth dries whilst you sleep, this allows more bacteria than usual to form. These warm and dry conditions means that potentially harmful bacteria can start to attack your gums whilst you sleep and can lead to gingivitis and periodontitis.
Whilst smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer, alcohol can play a role too. This is unlikely to happen if you only have the odd drink, but if you drink regularly or excessively, you run the risk of getting oral cancer. This can be a devastating disease and can lead to facial disfigurement and even death in some cases. Our Ipswich dentists check for possible indicators of this when we examine your mouth and will advise if we think you need to see your GP for further investigation.
One of the most dramatic oral health problems that alcohol can lead to, of course, is accidents. Anyone who has had ‘one too many’ will know how easy it is to make bad judgements or be less stable on our feet than normal. Falls and collisions are not uncommon if too much alcohol is consumed and unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to facial injuries and broken or knocked out teeth. Hopefully, this won’t happen to any of our patients but if you do suffer from an accident that damages your teeth, remember that whilst we might be closed over some of the holidays, you should still call our usual number and listen to the instructions for seeking emergency dental care. Remember too, that if a head injury has been sustained, the A&E of your local hospital should be your first port of call to rule out anything more serious.
Stale smelling breath after drinking is not uncommon but usually goes as things return to normal. Longer term bad breath though is also one of the symptoms of gum disease (see earlier). As bacteria attack our gums, they also expel gases and it is this which causes the often smelly breath of anyone who has gum disease. Moderation is key here, along with drinking plenty of water to rehydrate and also making sure that you brush your teeth well and use floss, and maintain this over the festive period and beyond.
Most alcoholic drinks can have an effect on the appearance of your teeth. Whilst red wine is well known for staining your teeth, due to it containing tannins, even white wine and some other drinks can have a similar effect. This is due to their acidic content which can cause erosion of the enamel surface of your teeth. This creates a rougher surface to the tooth which attracts staining elements more easily.
Remember that whilst Christmas and new year parties are meant to be fun, they can also leave a legacy of less healthy teeth. Whilst hangovers will usually vanish with time, and probably the aid of a painkiller or two, dental problems can last for a long time and often worsen over time. Although there are many restorative treatments available at our Ipswich dental practice which can help to correct these problems, it is far better not to need these in the first place. So please remember, have a great time in the weeks to come but take care to drink sensibly. Your teeth and gums will thank you for it!
If you feel that your teeth may have suffered over the Xmas period, please call the Foxhall Dental Practice to make an appointment to see a dentist on 01473 258396.