Can alcohol consumption affect your oral health?
Recent research suggests that consuming even one alcoholic beverage per day can throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth, raising the risk of gum infection, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. According to a study published in the journal Microbiome, scientists at NYU School of Medicine found that heavy alcohol drinkers shift the overall composition of their oral microbiome, with beneficial bacteria disappearing and several inflammatory bacteria increasing. The study defined heavy drinkers as women and men who had more than one or two drinks per day, respectively.
The study reviewed mouthwash samples and alcohol consumption data from 1,044 adults aged 55 to 87 who were participating in two ongoing cancer studies. Researchers analyzed oral bacteria and compared the microbe composition among 270 nondrinkers, 614 moderate drinkers, and 160 heavy drinkers. The heavy drinkers had higher levels of harmful Bacteroidales, Actinomyces, and Neisseria bacteria and lower levels of Lactobacillales, which are commonly found in probiotic food supplements and thought to prevent sickness.
Previous research by the same team demonstrated that oral bacteria composition can influence the development of oral and upper digestive tract cancers, including cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, and pancreas. Changes to bacterial composition from heavy drinking potentially contribute to periodontal disease, heart disease, and head and neck cancer as well, according to the authors.
Dr. Jiyoung Ahn, the study's senior investigator, emphasized the importance of avoiding heavy alcohol drinking for maintaining a healthy oral microbiome. "Our study provides another scientific reason to avoid heavy alcohol drinking for maintaining a healthy oral microbiome, which is important to our health," said Ahn. It's worth noting that the current research was not extensive enough to distinguish differences in oral health among wine, beer, or liquor drinkers.
Maintain great oral health by moderating your alcohol consumption, keeping good dental home care and going to By The Lake Dental for your regular hygiene appointments every 4-6 months!
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