Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727




Posts for: May, 2022

You may have heard or read many warnings over the years about the potential dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, including heightened risks for liver disease, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. However, you might not realize that alcohol can also have some negative impacts on your dental and oral wellness.

Once you've gained a basic understanding of alcohol's effects on your teeth, gums, and mouth, you'll most likely want to keep your drinking habits under relatively firm control. Take a look at four sound dental reasons you might want to limit your consumption of beer, wine, distilled spirits, and cocktails.

1. Alcohol Dries Teeth and Gums

If you've ever suffered from an unpleasantly dry mouth after a night of drinking, you've had firsthand experience with one potential dental complication related to alcohol consumption. As a diuretic, alcohol reduces the body's water stores. At the same time, it inhibits the production of saliva.

Because saliva helps to protect tooth enamel against plaque buildup and bacterial infiltration, a chronically dry mouth increases your risk for tooth decay. The plaque accumulation may also lead to gingivitis and other gum diseases. You may even develop an oral yeast infection known as thrush.

2. Alcohol Alters Your Bacterial Balance

A healthy mouth actually does contain its share of bacteria, with the healthy strains helping to limit the progress of the destructive ones. Research has shown that the mouths of heavy drinkers contain smaller numbers of these healthy bacteria, as well as larger numbers of the more harmful strains.

Scientists haven't yet determined exactly why this imbalance occurs, although it may involve the production of acids in the mouth or the production of toxins by the overgrowing harmful bacteria. In any case, minimizing your drinking would seem a sensible strategy for maintaining a healthier oral ecosystem.

3. Alcohol Can Promote Oral Cancer

People who abuse alcohol increase their risk for oral cancer. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation names alcohol abuse the second leading cause of this potentially deadly disease. Alcohol plus tobacco use raises the risk for oral cancer exponentially, but either substance also raises the risk on its own.

Alcohol may also have a less direct effect on your oral cancer risk. Researchers have noted that people who have cirrhosis of the liver (a disease often from excessive drinking) also develop changes in their throat and mouth tissues that make those tissues more vulnerable to cancer.

4. Alcohol Can Make You Careless

Alcohol can impair your physical coordination as well as your mental judgment. This combination of impairments can make you more vulnerable to accidents such as tripping over curbs or getting into automotive collisions. The impacts from these kinds of injuries can result in cracked, broken, or even lost teeth.

Even if you don't injure yourself after a few too many drinks, the mental fuzziness common after heavy drinking could cause you to neglect your dental hygiene. Inconsistent brushing, flossing, and dental checkups can leave you with cavities and gum disease that may call for extensive treatment.

Alcohol also interferes with the body's absorption of nutrients. If your body doesn't receive and absorb critical nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin A, you can suffer from tooth damage or gum disease. Insufficient levels of vitamin C can weaken the connective tissues that hold your teeth in place.

Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, can provide you with ongoing dental evaluations and guidance, including dietary and lifestyle advice, to help you keep your mouth in optimal condition for decades to come. Contact our office to schedule a consultation or any treatment you might require.

Just because you smoke or used to smoke doesn't mean you can't do something to prevent bad breath, tooth decay, teeth discoloration, and gum disease. While the best way to maintain your oral health would be to quit smoking if you still do, that may be easier said than done. Below are some of the best oral health tips to follow if you're a smoker or ex-smoker. 

1. Brush and Floss Regularly 

While this is a requirement for everyone, smokers are more prone to oral health issues such as tooth stains, tooth loss, and gum disease. Make it a habit to brush and floss at least twice a day to prevent the harm caused by smoking. 

It's advisable to brush right after smoking to remove the tar and other chemicals left on the teeth. The more you wait, the more the chemicals set in, making them harder to remove. Don't forget to clean the tongue as it can harbor lots of bacteria that cause bad breath and compromise your sense of taste. 

2. Use an Appropriate Toothbrush and Toothpaste

In order to tackle the tobacco stains and clear away damaging substances, use a toothbrush with soft bristles. It should be flexible enough to reach all areas of your mouth for a thorough clean. However, in the eagerness to remove your tooth stains, avoid the temptation of brushing aggressively as it can damage your teeth and gums.

Use toothpaste specifically made for smokers if possible. Such kinds of toothpaste have stronger chemicals and more intense mint flavoring to fight off bacteria and improve the freshness of your breath. 

3. Rinse With a Mouthwash

One of the biggest complaints amongst smokers and ex-smokers is their bad breath. Rinsing your mouth daily with mouthwash can eliminate bad breath and keep your mouth healthy. Since smoking encourages the growth of bacteria in the mouth, choose an antibacterial mouthwash that can kill the bacteria. 

4. Avoid Teeth-Staining Foods and Beverages

Highly acidic foods and beverages can cause stains and erode your enamel, and this is even more true for smokers who may already have weakened enamel. Stay away from coffee, soda, berries, and pasta sauce. And if you must consume them, do it in moderation. Foods rich in protein, vitamins, fiber, and calcium are best for the health of your teeth. These include leafy greens, celery, carrots, and cheese. 

5. Whiten Your Teeth

Nicotine and tar from cigarettes usually cause teeth stains over time. But the good news is that you can reverse these effects through professional teeth whitening. This procedure can remove even the deepest and most stubborn stains, and you will experience the results immediately. Ideally, get professional teeth whitening if you have already quit smoking. If you are still smoking, it won't be long before the nicotine and tar discolor your teeth again. 

6. Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Visiting your dentist regularly is the most reliable way to keep your oral health intact. First, your dentist will conduct professional cleanings to eliminate the buildup of tartar between your teeth and gums. They will also scrub your teeth to remove plaque. 

The dentist will also perform an oral examination to check for other deeper issues such as cavities, tooth decay, periodontitis, and oral cancer. Catching these problems early is crucial in managing or treating the problem. Due to the multiple oral health risks associated with smoking, visit your dentist at least twice a year. You may even need more frequent visits if you have an ongoing oral condition. 

Whether you're a smoker or ex-smoker, following the tips above can help maintain your oral health. And if you need a dental checkup, professional teeth whitening, or any other dental service, contact us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC.