Why over-indulgence in alcoholic drinks can present a real risk for teeth and gums
As the country slowly emerges from lockdown, one of the most keenly awaited announcements has finally emerged and people in England are once again allowed to go to the pub from 4th July.
It won’t be the same of course, and both pubs and restaurants will have to operate differently to the way they did before lockdown. Even so, there will be many people who can’t wait for the taste of a freshly poured pint or gin and tonic.
However much you are looking forward to going to the pub again, we urge our Canterbury patients to remember that alcohol can be harmful to your oral health. In moderation, and with good oral care at home, this should not be a major problem, but drunk to excess or too frequently and it may lead to a number of dental issues that need to be treated.
Most alcoholic drinks contain sugar, even the relatively bitter ones. Those that are aimed at the younger end of the market are likely to contain quite significant amounts and can be particularly harmful to your teeth. Sugar, in any form, can lead to caries, or tooth decay, which requires intervention and restoration, usually with a filling. If not discovered early enough, tooth loss is also a possibility. There is an additional risk of tooth decay as alcohol may cause us to brush our teeth less well than we usually do, or even forget to do it altogether before we go to bed at night.
At Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic we offer tooth coloured composite fillings for those who wish to retain a natural appearance of the teeth rather than having fillings made from the traditional amalgam material, which is much darker in colour.
Alcohol can also be a contributory factor in the development of gum disease as the sugars in it help to feed bacteria and help them to multiply. This is exacerbated by the fact that drinking alcohol, especially to excess, often leads to a dry mouth, providing the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. If you have ever woken up and noticed a ‘gooey’ white substance stuck to your mouth after you have been drinking, much of that is made up of bacteria.
Try to drink sensibly and in moderation and make sure to hydrate well with water before you go to bed at night.
Oral cancers kill around 4000 people in the UK each year. Despite this, it is less well known generally than many other types of cancer. Survivors of mouth cancer may also suffer from some facial disfigurement and may have trouble in swallowing and with their speech. Whilst smoking is the major cause of this particular type of cancer, alcohol also plays a role. In addition to the fact that many smokers also drink, it can, if drunk too regularly or to excess, be a significant cause in itself.
Prevention is the best option and making sure that you drink sensibly and look after your oral health both at home, together with regular check ups at our Canterbury practice, will help to minimise the risks. It is important that your mouth health is checked regularly and at your six monthly checkups, we will examine your teeth and gums and also the soft tissues for any unusual signs, such as sore patches or lumps. If we are concerned about anything we find, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation.
Broken teeth and accidents
One of the most dramatic ways that alcohol can harm your teeth is through accidents. Stumbles, collisions and falls are common causes of teeth being knocked out. Whilst accidents can happen at any time, our sense of balance and judgement is affected as alcohol takes effect. Naturally, the best way to prevent teeth being harmed in this way is to drink sensibly. If you do fall or collide with something and damage your teeth, you should first of all go to your local A&E department if you have received a blow to the head. It is important that you have this checked out before booking an emergency appointment at our Canterbury dental practice.
Depending on the damage done, we may be able to restore your teeth with fillings, crowns or an artificial restoration such as a dental bridge or implant. We have many techniques available to repair damaged teeth, but taking care of them and avoiding problems in the first place, is always the preferred option.
We are sure that many of you are looking forward to a return to something along the lines of normality when pubs open again. All that we ask is that you drink sensibly and remember that excess drinking is harmful not only to your teeth and gums, but your overall health also.
As always, if you need to make an appointment to see a dentist, please call Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic on 01227 463529. We look forward to seeing you as we ramp up operations following recent lock-down restrictions.