It’s not just Santa who enjoys a drink at Christmas! And with the festive season upon us, we can expect our alcohol consumption to increase. But even one tipple a day could disrupt the bacteria in your mouth, putting your dental health at risk. That’s according to recent research into drink habits.
How alcohol affects your mouth
Even if you practise good dental hygiene you could have somewhere between 1,000 and 100,000 bacteria on just one tooth! Though most of these occur naturally, some are more harmful than others.
After submitting saliva samples from over 1,000 adults to testing, the study’s researchers found that more ‘bad bacteria’ was present in the mouths of those who drank alcohol on a daily basis. This bacteria has been linked to everything from tooth decay to gum disease and even several kinds of cancer.
These saliva samples were then examined alongside samples from those who did not drink. The results?
Those who consumed one or more alcoholic drinks a day saw higher numbers of harmful bacteria in their mouths and fewer numbers of ‘healthy bacteria’, or Lactobacillales. This is bacteria which is associated with preventing tooth decay.
What’s more, they found that alcohol restricts the development of pathogens known to help curb inflammation of the gums.
Type of alcohol determines the risk
But that’s not all. The type of bacteria is affected by the type of drink.
Bacteria associated with gum disease was more prevalent in those who drank wine, whereas bacteria associated with tooth decay was seen in higher numbers in the mouths of beer drinkers.
Look after your teeth this Christmas
The research shows that the risks become higher as alcohol consumption becomes more sustained. But with the holiday season meaning an endless array of events, many of us will be drinking alcohol over several consecutive days, which can even spill over into the new year.
The best way to protect your dental health is to limit the amount you drink and how often. Aim to have at least two nights off a week.
You can also remove bacteria from your mouth by drinking water regularly, particularly between drinks, and ensuring you brush thoroughly before bed. It’s tempting to skimp because you’ve had a late night, but this is when you need to brush most!
Also, keep a glass of water by your bed to keep your mouth and body hydrated during the night. A dry mouth breeds the growth of plaque and can be caused by alcohol.
If you are a heavy drinker or suffer from addiction, our confidential and friendly Notting Hill dental team are here to offer support. We will check your mouth for signs of damage and can help you take healthier steps for the future. Contact us today for more advice.
In the meantime, may we take the opportunity to wish our patients Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!