Dentists’ warning: alcohol harms mouth as much as the rest of the body

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Having a couple of glasses of wine at home every evening may sound harmless during these  troubled times—but the nation’s pandemic drinking habits are potentially setting us up for serious oral health issues down the track, warns the Australian Dental Association.

The trend is unmasking the possibility of a range of mouth-related health issues including oral cancers, tooth decay and gum disease from a regular supply of alcohol every day. Yet few people make the link and this is where the problem lies.

A recent FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) survey has highlighted a number of potentially problematic alcohol-use behaviours during COVID-19, namely that 13 per cent of Australian drinkers are concerned about the amount of alcohol they or someone in their household is drinking, 11 per cent reported drinking to cope with anxiety and stress and 14 per cent reported that they’ve been drinking daily.

In addition, consumer spending data on alcohol indicates there have been significant increases in packaged liquor sales since the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia, particularly for online sales and home delivery.

Coupled with high rates of tooth decay and increased sugar consumption, it’s yet another 
assault on the nation’s mouths, said Professor Michael McCullough from the University of 
Melbourne and the ADA’s Specialist Working Group.

“Strong evidence shows that long-term high levels of alcohol consumption alone increases the risk of oral cancer by about four-fold. There’s a multiplication effect for those who also smoke, to around 15-fold,” Professor McCullough said.

This story was sourced from an ADA media release.

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