Effects Tobacco and Alcohol Can Have on Your Dental Health

Everyone has their own vices and addictions that they struggle with. Maybe its shopping, or sugar, or soda, or something else, but most of us have something that is a weakness for us. Alcohol and tobacco have been human vices for a very long time and while we usually understand the effects they have on our minds and bodies as a whole, what exactly are the negative impacts alcohol and tobacco can have on our oral health?

Alcohol Consumption and Your Mouth.

Alcohol can definitely be part of a healthy lifestyle if consumed in moderation. “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate alcohol consumption as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men” (GMA). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines heavy drinking as consuming 8 drinks or more per week for women and consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men. The more alcohol an individual consumes the higher their risk will be for developing tooth and gum issues. And when this excess is a routine occurrence that risk jumps up even higher and faster! Avoidance is best but if you do drink, moderation is key to reducing the negative impacts it can have on your overall oral health.

As with most things in life, the more you consume of something not-so-good, the worse the side effects are. If you eat twice the sugar you are supposed to each day you will have much more problems than if you consumed the recommended amount or less. The same goes with excessive and repeat consumption of alcohol. Alcoholism is the second most common risk factor in the development of oral cancer, second only to tobacco use. Those individuals who consume excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis see an increase in a range of oral issues such as gum disease, bleeding gums, tooth decay, tooth loss, canker sores, tooth pain, mouth sores, and more.

The Effects of Tobacco on Your Oral Health.

Most of us have been told time and again, by family and friends, about how horrible cigarettes are for your health and wellbeing and the risks associated with smoking. We likely have heard the warnings about other forms of tobacco such as chew, dip, and even vaping. In addition to the damage tobacco can cause to your heart and lungs, it can also do a number on your oral health. Many people wonder if new tobacco products like vaping and e-cigs are any safer when it comes to the risk for cancer and other oral health problems. “There isn’t any evidence that suggests vaping causes cancer. However, there is some evidence that suggests vaping may increase your overall risk for cancer. This is different than directly causing cancer” (Healthline).

It is important to note the distinction but to also keep in mind that tobacco use is the number one cause of oral cancers and that any tobacco exposure can increase your risk for developing cancer later on in life. Smokers are six times more likely to develop mouth or throat cancer than non-smokers, and smokeless tobacco can be just as risky! Remember, tobacco exposure weakens your body’s immune system, which in turn lets the bad bacteria in your mouth take hold and this can quickly lead to major oral health conditions like tooth loss, bad breath, and even cancer.

So, treat your mouth right and protect the health of your teeth and gums- avoid alcohol and tobacco to keep your smile bright and healthy for years to come!