Christmas Tipples Take a Toll on our Teeth

New online poll1 reveals seven in ten people (71 per cent) consume more alcohol at Christmas than the rest of the year potentially contributing to major oral health problems, according to leading oral health charity.

The British Dental Health Foundation has taken a look at our Christmas drinking habits and found that many of us enjoy a tipple too many at Christmas time and are urging everybody to be more aware of the effects they have on our oral health to help limit the impact.

We are all aware of the risks excessive alcohol pose but the charity particularly wants to draw attention to the relationship excessive alcohol consumption has as a major contributing factor towards mouth cancer.

Mouth cancer claims more lives in the UK every year than road traffic accidents and excessive alcohol intake is linked to more than a third of cases in men and a fifth in women.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter, OBE, says: “The first signs of mouth cancer can appear as ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps in the head or neck area.

“Excessive alcohol consumption increases the chances of developing mouth cancer by 30 per cent. But by being aware of the relationship between alcohol and mouth cancer you can recognise if you are at risk and take the steps to catch any sign early by attending the dentist regularly.

“But mouth cancer is the not the only oral health risk associated with alcoholic drinks, they also often contain high levels of sugar which can lead to tooth decay.”

Tooth decay happens when the enamel and dentin of a tooth become softened by acid attack after you have eaten or drunk anything containing sugars. Over time, the acid makes a cavity in the tooth. This often leads to the tooth needing to be filled or even removed.

“In the early stages of tooth decay there are often no symptoms, but your dental team will be able to spot the warning signs,” adds Dr. Carter.

“Visit your dental team regularly to catch any signs of tooth decay early as small cavities are much easier to treat than advanced decay. We can help to limit the effect of alcoholic drinks have on our oral health over the festive season by making sure you drink plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum after eating or drinking to promote saliva production. We can also choose to drink through a straw to allow drinks to bypass the teeth, meaning the sugar comes into less contact with the surfaces of our teeth and cause less damage. Excessive alcohol consumption is a huge problem to many aspects of our health so take care this Christmas and please drink responsibly.” – British Dental Health Foundation

1. British Dental Health Foundation (2015) Your Say Survey Question, ‘Do you drink more alcohol at Christmas compared to the rest of the year?’