Could alcohol change the bacteria in your mouth?

Enjoying just one alcoholic drink could be changing the bacteria in your mouth. Furthermore, it could lead to oral cancer according to a new study.

Researchers who have been looking into the effects alcohol has on oral health discovered that it can influence the type of bacteria which resides in the mouth.  Higher numbers of bad bacteria were found within the mouths of those who consumed alcohol on a daily basis.

Scientists tested samples from over 1,000 adults, it was found that compared to non-drinkers those who consumed more than one alcoholic drink a day saw a reduction of the healthy bacteria, with a significant increase of the more harmful bacteria showing.

These changes could go on to contribute to alcohol-related diseases, for example, gum disease, digestive tract cancers, oral cancer.

“By giving the mouth a good clean last thing at night, bacteria in the saliva can be neutralised and help prevent any unwanted oral health or general health problems”.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation said: ” There are hundreds of different types of bacteria in the mouth and they all play a highly significant role in a person’s wellbeing. These bacteria are finely balanced and important for maintaining everything from the immune system and how the body deals with pollution in the environment, to protecting the teeth and gums and aiding with digestion after eating and drinking.

“The bacterial imbalance from drinking alcohol can cause serious problems in the mouth, such as gum disease, as well as increase the risk of head and neck cancer and heart disease.”

Furthermore, the study also found the different types of alcohol consumed can affect the bacteria within the mouth, wine, beers and spirits were tested.

It was found that wine drinkers produced more of the bacteria which is responsible for gum disease, whilst those who drank beer produced an increase in the bacteria which is associated with dental decay.

Dr Carter said ” The best way for somebody to protect themselves from alcohol-related disease is to drink moderately, both in volume and frequency.

“It is also especially important that before bed, teeth are brushed correctly after drinking alcohol. Don’t allow the bacteria to build up overnight.

“By giving the mouth a good clean last thing at night, bacteria in the saliva can be neutralised and help prevent any unwanted oral health of general health problems”.

Need more information?

Finally, if you require more information or have any concerns regarding this matter and your oral health please get in touch.

You will find all our details on the contact us page. 

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