After caffeine, alcohol is the second most commonly consumed drug in the United Kingdom. Alcohol has been linked to many oral health conditions including mouth cancer (more information can be found here), tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, staining and tooth wear due to the acidity of drinks such as alcopops, cider and wine. Excessive alcohol intake is also associated with dental trauma and injuries to the face, either through accidental falls, road traffic accidents or violence.
Alcohol has many other wider effects on your general, social and mental health, some of which can influence dental treatment. These include drug interactions, liver disease, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) diseases, and compliance with treatment and attending appointments.
It’s not just about what and how much alcohol you consume, but also the way that you drink that affects both oral and general health. So have a think about how, when and why you drink alcohol.
What do we mean by risk when drinking alcohol?
Lower risk Lower risk drinking implies that no level of alcohol consumption is completely safe. The context can determine the level of risk, for example drinking and driving. The guidelines states that ‘lower risk’ is not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week, spread evenly over the week i.e. 2 units per day and not all 14 units in one go.
Increasing risk For both men and women, increasing risk is regularly drinking more than 14 units per week.
Higher risk Higher risk drinking means regularly drinking more than 35 units per week for women and more than 50 units per week for men.
Binge drinking Binge drinking really means drinking too much or too quickly, which can make you drunk. Drunkenness can lead to risky behaviour and an increased risk of injury.
For more information and advice on how to cut back on your alcohol intake, take a look at the following sources of information.