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Dangers of Alcohol and Oral Health

We often have patients who ask, “Can drinking alcohol affect my oral health?” There are, in fact, a few reasons why that martini may not be good for your pearly whites.

In addition to creating an overly acidic environment in your mouth, alcohol severely dehydrates oral tissues because of its desiccant and diuretic properties. Because alcohol saps oral tissues of their moisture so readily, saliva glands can't keep enough saliva in the mouth to prevent dry mouth. In addition, saliva contains antibacterial properties that inhibits growth of anaerobic bacteria, a destructive type of oral bacterial responsible for tooth decay, gingivitis, chronic bad breath, and periodontitis.

What are anaerobic bacteria?

When there is a lack of saliva flow in the mouth and the mouth cannot naturally cleanse itself of oral debris (food particles, dead skin cell, mucous), conditions develop that promote activity of anaerobic bacteria, or bacteria that thrive in dry, airless places. These anaerobes also flourish when an unending supply of proteins (food debris) are available to consume, creating rapidly multiplying layers of plaque that stick to teeth and demineralizes tooth enamel unless removed by brushing and professional dental cleanings.

Oral Cancer and Alcohol

Acetaldehyde is a chemical compound leftover after the liver has metabolized alcohol. Capable of causing genetic mutations, acetaldehyde is also a known carcinogen that contributes to the ill feelings of hangovers. Although most metabolism of alcohol is done in the liver, evidence shows that metabolism also occurs outside the liver and that enzymes in the mouth could encourage accumulation of acetaldehyde in oral tissues.

When combined with poor oral health, smoking, and other detrimental lifestyle factors, alcohol may be considered a primary contributory factor in the development of oral cancer.

Even if you don't drink or drink only occasionally, remaining aware of symptoms that may indicate oral cancer will improve your chances of recovering successfully when you start treatment in the early stages of oral cancer. Signs include red or while speckled patches in the mouth, unexplained bleeding, lumps/swellings, chronic ear or throat pain, and areas of numbness in the mouth or on the face.

If you have any questions about alcohol and its connection to oral health, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Kevin Hayes and Dr. Sandy Hayes at your next visit to our Cookeville office.

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patient testimonials

"I had multiple bad experiences as a child with the dentist. As a result, I have feared going to the dentist office for years. Dr. Kevin and Sandy are so gentle and caring that I still bring my children to them and we live almost two hours away!" ~ Tasha W.

patient testimonials

"Since age 7, I have been extremely fearful of going to the dentist. It was this age that I was told by a previous dentist that I would eventually have to have a root canal and my front tooth capped due to a bicycling accident. This gave me a scary image and sounded painful. When Dr. Sandy told me a root canal was needed, although it was 18 years later, it still sounded scary and painful. Then I was told about sedation. The entire day of the appointment I don’t recall much. When I woke up, the "scary" part was already over and I felt refreshed with zero pain or discomfort. I was completely satisfied with my smile and the results! As for the staff, each person I was in contact with was excellent in accommodating each need that I had and made me feel like I was a part of their family. I would 100% recommend Hayes Family Dentistry and sedation to anyone. The entire experience was, in one word, amazing!" ~ Kellie A.

patient testimonials

"No pain was felt. New found respect for dentistry. Recovery was a lot easier. Would not see any other dentist. Would recommend Hayes Family Dentistry to anyone and everyone. Very, very pleased with my experience and even brought my wife here. All I can say is WOW!" ~ Jason R.

patient testimonials

"I have been extremely afraid to go to the dentist. I had a bad experience about three years ago where my jaw got locked open during a procedure. For about an hour they had to do warm moist compresses and massage my temporal joint to get my jaw unlocked. I was extremely sore for about three and a half weeks. This created a fear of going back to the dentist. My experience with sedation: when I came in that morning I was not anxious about the appointment because I took a pill that morning that helped calm me. I was greeted, they got me comfortable, and I watched a pleasant video about ocean life. I don’t remember anything about that appointment. My next memory was of waking up refreshed and ready to go the next day. I didn’t have any soreness and didn’t have to worry about what I ate because of my joints being sore. It was the most pleasant experience I have ever had at a dental office. I will definitely have sedation again for any kind of future treatment." ~ Sara H.

patient testimonials

"Are you afraid to smile because you’re ashamed of your smile? Hayes Family Dentistry can help. Are you saying, “But I’m more afraid of going to a dentist than people seeing my smile?” Hayes Family Dentistry can really help; they helped me. Being afraid of the dentist is nothing to be ashamed of—it’s called dental phobia and you’re not alone. A lot of people suffer from it. But now thanks to sedation dentistry, you don’t have to suffer anymore." ~ Tony "Gator" Harrison
(Formerly with Country Giant)

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We love to give back to the community

We love to give back to the community in which we live and work. We provide educational presentations to local preschools, organizational groups like the boy scouts and church programs. Especially rewarding is our involvement with “Teen Challenge” and “Smiles from the Heart.” We are passionate about helping people who may be less fortunate or find themselves in difficult situations.

Hayes Family Dentistry, PC