Drinking more than the recommended daily limit of alcohol may put you at risk for periodontal disease, or gum disease.
Researchers have found that people who drink alcohol heavily have fewer “good” bacteria in their mouths, and more “bad” bacteria which is linked to gum disease, heart disease, and cancer.
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In the study that was conducted at NYU, a team of researchers analyzed mouthwash samples from 1,044 U.S. adults who were part of two ongoing national cancer studies. Of those people, about one-quarter said they were nondrinkers. Another 59 percent were moderate drinkers, and 15 percent were heavy drinkers.
“Heavy” was defined as drinking more than the limit recommended by U.S. health officials: one drink per day for women, and two per day for men.
Overall, the study found, drinkers — especially heavy drinkers — tended to have fewer Lactobacillales, a type of “good” bacteria commonly used in probiotic supplements.
Drinkers also typically had higher levels of certain “bad” bacteria, such as Bacteroidales, Actinomyces and Neisseria species.
While there were marked differences between the alcohol consumers, the researcher conclude that alcohol alone explains those differences. Other factors, such as diet, oral hygiene, and other demographics are also at play.
This is the first such study to show a correlation between alcohol consumption. More research will conducted in the future. The team said it specifically wants to know is why would alcohol selectively cause an increase in some bad bugs and a dip in some good ones? Another question to consider: Whether heavy drinking promotes certain diseases by changing the bacterial makeup of the oral cavity.
The bottom line is the standard lifestyle advice still stands: Practice good oral hygiene and make safe, healthy choices for your body.
The findings of this study were published online April 23,2018 in the journal Microbiome.
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