Maybe it started out as a casual drink every now and then, but it has progressed to be more regular. If you have more than one or two drinks per day, you may have become a heavy alcohol drinker. In addition to a slew of potential health problems, including heart disease and certain cancers, excessive alcohol consumption has recently been linked to a higher risk of gum disease. Learn more about this connection and how you can improve your gum health in the long run by continuing to read this informative post from your dentist in Pasadena.
A Healthy Mouth
When everything is balanced and healthy in your mouth, you have a wide array of bacteria and even fungi in your mouth—more than 700 species. Some are good and help you with digestion and immune response, while others cause problems like tooth decay and gum disease. The food and drinks you consume affect this balance for better or worse. For example, while you’re enjoying that sugary chocolate cake, so are the cavity-causing bacteria that live in your mouth. By making healthier choices in what you consume, you can impact your oral health. The same is true with alcohol.
A Drinker’s Mouth
A recent study found that heavy alcohol drinkers change the bacteria composition in their mouths from that found in nondrinkers. Prior studies performed by the same researchers found that oral bacteria composition can impact the development of cancers in the oral cavity and upper digestive track, but in this particular study, they saw an increase in the bacteria that cause gum disease and a decrease in bacteria that help fight infection in the mouth. This combination could contribute to the emergence of this common inflammatory disease.
In its early stages, gum disease is little more than an annoyance. The bacteria in plaque buildup irritates the gums, causing them to become red and swollen and bleed easily. Later, however, gum disease can spread to the supporting bone and tissue and eventually lead to tooth loss if it’s left untreated. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost half of American adults have periodontitis, the advanced form of gum disease, which could be due in part to heavy drinking.
How to Improve Your Gum Health
In addition to cutting back on your alcohol consumption, there are a few things you should do to keep your gums healthier in the long run, including the following:
- Brushing at least twice every day.
- Flossing at least once every day.
- Visiting the dentist for checkups and cleanings twice every year.
- Drinking more water.
- Consuming less sugar.
- Eating more mouth-friendly foods like carrots, apples, leafy greens, and more.
- Using an antimicrobial mouthwash daily.
Although that drink or two after work may not seem like a big deal to you, it can have a huge effect on your body, including your mouth. Through better lifestyle changes and working with your dentist in Pasadena, you can prevent gum disease and enjoy better oral and overall health, which are worth the effort to protect.
About the Practice
At Sierra Family, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry, mother-and-son dentists Dr. Linda and Dr. Christopher Sierra offer comprehensive dental care for patients of all ages. They each have years of experience, have earned a number of certifications, and provide periodontal therapy for those with gum disease. To make an appointment with them, you can call (713) 943-2094 or click here.