You Loose with Booze: Drinking Leads to Bad Oral Health

alcoholoralcancerAlcohol abuse can be extremely harmful to your oral health, which is not something most people are aware of. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are approximately 17.6 million adults who are alcoholics or have alcohol problems; approximately 14 million more Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. One in four children in the United States, younger than 18 years old, are exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence in the family, and more than half of the population’s adults have a close family member who has, or has had alcoholism.


People with alcohol problems tend to neglect healthy habits like eating properly and taking care of their daily hygiene. Alcohol abuse can lead to periodontal disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores that are potentially precancerous. It is estimated over 30,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, and about one person will die from this disease every hour. According to the American Cancer Society, about 70 percent of oral cancer patients consume alcohol frequently, and mixed with tobacco smoking, that risk factor continues to rise. The risk of oral cancer is six times higher in those who drink alcohol, compared with non-drinkers. People who abuse alcohol are at high risk of having seriously deteriorated teeth, gums and compromised oral health in general. It is also estimated that 80% will have moderate to severe gum disease and decayed teeth, with more than one-third having potentially precancerous lesions.


Alcohol Abuse Causes:


  • Irritation of the gums, tongue, and oral tissues
  • Poor healing after dental surgery
  • Poor dental health habits
  • Increase in tooth decay
  • Poor compliance with home care regimens to develop and maintain good oral health
  • Increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease
  • Risk factors for higher incidence of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and oral cancer


Drinking is always best if done in moderation, for both your oral and overall health and well-being. If you have a habit of having an alcoholic drink on a daily basis, you may want to consider lowering your consumption in order to lower your risk of cancer.

Brush and Floss at least twice a day and have your teeth and gums cleaned and checked by your dentist at least every 6 months, to help reduce these risks.