Alcohol in moderation may not be harmful, but excessive alcohol use can leave a damaging effect on your entire body, in particular your brain, heart, liver, immune system and oral cavity! Several studies have reported alcohol as a risk factor for oral and other cancers, heart disease, and liver cirrhosis, just to name a few diseases. In fact, alcohol acts as a depressant of the central nervous system, and with heavy usage overtime can even lead to memory loss and impaired cognition.
Many organizations linked with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) bring awareness, especially in the month of April during Alcohol Awareness Month, to important resources and information on alcohol consumption. This includes the causes of alcoholism, the signs and effects, how to communicate with a loved who is facing a drinking problem, and available treatment options. This is even significantly important during the current pandemic, as individuals struggling with alcoholism may be at an even greater risk during COVID-19.
In the United States, over 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder, with only 8% of the individuals receiving treatment. Alcohol use has also been reported to take the lives of approximately 4,700 teenagers each year, which is more than all illegal drugs combined. In addition, according to a study in The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2018, about 27% of individuals 18 years and older reported binge drinking, which is classified typically as 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in approximately 2 hours. The statistics surrounding unhealthy alcohol can be overwhelming, and many organizations and communities are joining together to help spread awareness about alcohol addiction and the dangers of alcoholism in order to help protect and save lives!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate alcohol use is classified as 1 drink a day for women, and no more than 2 drinks a day for men. In terms of your oral health, the CDC reports that alcohol dependence is the 2nd most common risk factor for oral cancer. Plus, heavy drinkers tend to have higher dental plaque levels, increasing their risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. It was also found that heavy drinkers are 3 times more likely to experience permanent tooth loss.
Alcohol can even lead to dry mouth making you feel dehydrated, which creates even more problems. A lack of saliva can cause bad breath, also known as halitosis, and increase your chance of developing cavities as saliva helps to remove dental plaque and neutralize acids caused by oral bacteria. Plus alcohol can stain your pearly-whites. Beer and wine, for instance, are acidic and the dark colors can discolor your tooth enamel. It is important to brush your teeth after waiting at least 30 minutes after the consumption of alcohol to avoid harming your tooth enamel which is weakened by the acidic content of the alcohol.
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, know that this is not a fight that has to be done alone. For help with alcohol addiction, please check out these resources with 24/7 availability.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.