Sip Sparingly for Your Oral Health

by Jason 4/30/2013 8:02 AM

Long-Term Binge Drinking Has Harmful Effects On Oral Health

Binge drinking may be frequently celebrated in pop culture and joked about on social media, but during Alcohol Awareness Month, Delta Dental warns consumers that alcohol abuse can be extremely harmful to oral health.

April is also Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and heavy alcohol consumption is one of the major risk factors for oral cancer. It is estimated that in 2013 there will be more than 36,000 new cases of oral and or pharyngeal cancer diagnosed in the United States, and about 17 people will die from this disease every day. In addition, certain popular adult beverages such pia coladasand energy drink-and-vodka concoctions contain large amounts of sugar, which causes tooth decay, while others (like red wine) can stain teeth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that other short-term risks of binge drinking include car crashes, violence (including child abuse), risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy. Long-term risks include liver disease, cancer, stroke, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

People who struggle with alcohol dependency typically neglect other healthy habits like regular exercise, proper nutrition and proper dental hygiene habits, said Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dentals vice president for dental science and policy.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking means drinking to the point that ones blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach 0.08g/dL. For women, this usually occurs after about four drinks in two hours, and for men, after about five. By the CDCs definition (four or more adult beverages in one sitting), more than one in eight women binge drink and twice as many men binge drink as women do.

Not surprisingly, the age group with the most binge drinkers is 18-34 adults. However, this cultural problem extends beyond college kids and twenty-somethings. According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of all adults in the U.S. (more than 38 million) binge drink about four times per month. Drinking to excess causes 80,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.

Drinking, like most other things, is best done in moderation for both your oral and overall health. For example, drinking the occasional glass of red wine (which contain heart-healthy antioxidants like resveratrol) may be beneficial for lowering LDL cholesterol and helping prevent clogging of arteries.1

1Wu JM, Hsieh TC. Resveratrol: a cardioprotective substance. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Jan;1215:16-21.

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