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Alcohol Effects on Teeth: Alcohol Can Wreck Your Smile

People who consume alcohol excessively and regularly are at great risk of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. Even having a few drinks regularly can begin to break down the enamel on teeth.

Alcohol and Tooth Decay

The process goes like this: the sugar in alcohol combines with the bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. Plaque that builds up eventually softens the enamel and a cavity, or a hole, will develop.

Once that hole appears, the plaque and bacteria reaches the dentin, the softer part of the tooth underneath the enamel. Tooth decay speeds up without the enamel present as a protector.

As the decaying process continues (and more alcohol is continually added to the mix), plaque and bacteria encounter the soft center of the tooth known as the pulp. The pulp houses nerves and blood vessels that, when exposed, lead to great pain and dental abscess.

The Science of Your Mouth

A recent article in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research indicates that the maintenance of soft and hard teeth tissue is largely determined by the chemical make-up of salivary glands that can serve as a protector against periodontitis.

However, since heavy and abusive alcohol consumers tend to have poor diets, the salivary glands are also affected and interact poorly with the mouth’s bacteria.

Oral Health Falls Low on the “To-Do” List

Alcoholics entering recovery are usually consumed with their immediate recovery needs… and rightfully so. With detox and withdrawal symptoms to endure, oral hygiene tends to become a secondary priority for everyone, regardless of where they are on the disease spectrum.

Those who are homeless need to address housing and employment needs immediately after entering recovery. Those who have jobs, but no insurance, often need direction and resources for dealing with the oral issues caused by alcoholism. Even those who have jobs and good insurance must still face long-term dental plans to obtain both oral health and the bright smiles they desire.

Back to the Basics

A Washington D.C.-based insurance agent named Lisa serves as a perfect example of alcohol-related dental problems. After spending a few months in alcohol recovery, Lisa said that her dentist discovered 14 cavities and severe periodontal disease. She spent the next 2 years repeatedly visiting the dentist.

“As I started taking care of my teeth—flossing and brushing—I realized I was learning how to take care of myself emotionally again, as well,” says Lisa.

Learn more about the short- and long-term effects of alcohol abuse.

Find Treatment for Alcohol Misuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol misuse, help is available and long-term recovery is possible. Professional treatment can start those battling substance use problems on the path to happy and healthy lives free from the torment of addiction. To learn more about alcohol abuse treatment program options, please contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at . Our caring representatives can take your call at any time, day or night. You can also check your health insurance coverage using the form below.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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