Periodontal disease can have severe consequences for both your oral health and your general health. While a treatable, and ultimately preventable, disease a stage is often reached where teeth may not be saved and its effects could have already been felt elsewhere in the body.
Now, a new study published by Brazilian researchers in the Journal of Periodontology, has found that individuals who drink at least four alcoholic drinks per week are not only at higher risk of periodontitis, their perio disease will be much more severe than those who drink less frequently, or not at all.
The researchers wrote: “A higher severity of periodontitis has been reported among alcohol users with incremental odds for occurrence of the disease proportional to the frequency of alcohol consumption, as well as a higher need for periodontal treatment.
“Therefore, it is important to highlight that in the present study, alcohol-dependent users presented a higher plaque index and a higher severity of periodontitis.”
The study looked at 88 patients divided into groups based on their alcohol dependency and periodontal status. Despite the four groups having broadly similar homogenous smoking status, educational levels and BMIs, the alcohol dependent groups tended to have significantly worse periodontal status than the occasional drinkers, and those who abstained altogether.
The authors continued: “The microbial analysis revealed significant differences in bacterial counts among the four groups, demonstrating higher counts associated with periodontitis and alcohol dependence. Individuals without periodontitis showed significantly lower bacterial levels when compared to those with periodontitis, although no significant difference in relation to alcohol consumption was observed.”
Even for those without perio, plaque levels were significantly higher for drinkers than non-drinkers. The researchers highlight that, since their study was based on a small cohort, much more research will be needed to examine this further.