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Signs pointing to old and new habits

Since we are officially in February, it is time to reevaluate our New Year resolution(s) on cutting down on our vices. The two topics I am going to address today are the effects of alcohol and tobacco consumption on your teeth.

Alcohol and Your Dental Health

The biggest, and first myth, is that alcohol disinfects your mouth.

The fact is, drinking alcohol dries your mouth and is harmful. If you add lemon or lime to your drink, the beverage becomes more acidic and makes your teeth more prone to cavities. In addition to this, if you have a tendency to mix alcohol with other sugary substances, it will make you more dehydrated.

Second common myth I hear is that alcohol can be substituted for water to stay hydrated. This belief cannot be farther from truth. The fact is that alcohol dries your mouth. In addition to it, it acts as a diuretic making you more dehydrated. A research by University Of Pennsylvania states that reducing the production of ADH there by increasing the amount of urine output, this will make you dehydrated.

Another big myth is that rinsing with higher concentration of alcohol reduces gum disease.

Alcohol is caustic to the oral tissues. Alcohol causes dehydration by increasing urine output. Also, the incidence of gum disease is higher in people with increased amounts of alcohol consumption. Research indicates that there is a higher incidence of periodontal disease in people who frequently consume alcohol. There is evidence that suggests a deeper and increased number of periodontal pockets in people who consume frequent alcoholic beverages. This increases the chances of bleeding gums and makes your dental cleaning appointments much more difficult and painful.

The last myth I am going to address is that alcohol can keep your teeth whiter. If you choose red wine and darker alcoholic beverages, the tannins in them will make your teeth darker.

In addition to all these effects, a case study conducted in Utah showed that the chances of oral cancer are much higher in people who constantly consume increased amounts of alcoholic drinks.

Tobacco and Your Dental Health

It is a well-known fact that smoking cigarettes, smoking pipes and chewing tobacco all have a high correlation to developing Oral cancer. Cigarettes contain more than 7000 chemicals. At least 70 of them have been related to oral cancer.

Also, bad breath is the most common noticeable disadvantage of smoking.

Stained teeth is another side effect. It is very difficult to remove the stains caused due to smoking. Over a period of time the staining may become permanent.

The incidences of bone loss is much higher in people who either smoke cigarettes or pipe. The bone loss is directly related to the fact that smoking either pipes or cigarettes reduces the amount of blood flow to the bone there by increasing the intensity of your periodontal disease.

The biggest myth is that Vapes are not harmful. On the contrary, flavored cigarettes or vapes are equally harmful. It has been shown that the vapes have at least 10, if not more carcinogens. The liquid nicotine with flavoring agents have more bacteria making your teeth more prone to cavities and gum disease.

If you label yourself as a social drinker and smoker. The harmful effects are additive if you smoke tobacco and consume alcohol simultaneously. If you believe you have an alcohol addiction please contact alcoholics anonymous or your medical provider to seek help.

If you are planning on quitting cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco, pipe smoking or e-cigarettes also known as vaping, please contact your medical provider or dentist so they can provide you with resources and help you be successful.

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