Those individuals who regularly consume an excessive amount of alcohol are at risk of many physical and mental health problems. In fact alcohol is more dangerous than heroin for all the trouble it cases. Most individuals will be aware of how excessive drinking can damage the liver, but it can also damage other parts of the body as well. In fact alcohol is so toxic that it can damage almost every organ if people drink excessively enough. One of the less talked about problems caused by this type of substance abuse is gum disease.
Gum disease (periodontal disease) refers to a number of conditions that can range from inflammation of the gums to serious disease. It is possible to treat most of these conditions, but it can occasionally lead to a loss of teeth and other lasting problems. It usually starts with bacterial growth in the mouth and a buildup of plaque on the gums. This can then lead to inflammation or even a severe infection. Some types of gum disease can be caused or made worse by alcohol abuse.
There are a number of different types of gum disease including:
* Gingivitis causes the gums to become red and swollen, and they will also bleed easily. This is the most common form of gum disease and it usually easily treated and doesn’t leave any lasting problems (so long as it is treated in time).
* Periodontitis can occur as a result of untreated gingivitis or as a result of some other disease. It involves a serious inflammation that can damage surrounding tissue and the teeth – in some cases the teeth will have to be removed.
The symptoms of gum disease can include:
* The gums bleed when the individual brushes their teeth hard or when they eat food.
* Gums that appear to be red or swollen.
* Gums feel tender to the touch.
* Bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away.
* Evidence of pus between the teeth and the gums.
* Dentures no longer appear to fit correctly.
* Gums appear to be pulling away from the teeth. This receding means that the teeth appear to be slightly bigger than they were previously.
* Teeth that feel a bit loose or that appear to be separating.
* The teeth appear to fit together in the mouth differently.
* Evidence of sores in the mouth.
* Development of deep pockets between the teeth and the gums.
There are a number of potential causes of gum disease including:
* Any disease that interferes with the normal functioning of the immune system can increase the likelihood of developing gum disease.
* Alcohol abuse can cause gum disease.
* There are certain medications that decrease the flow of saliva in the mouth, and this can lead to problems with the gums.
* Hormonal changes can make the gums more sensitive and therefore more likely to develop an inflammation.
* Those individuals who have a history of gum disease in their family seem to be more prone to this type of condition.
* Smoking cigarettes can make it more difficult for the tissue in the gums to carry out repair work.
* Those people who have poor dental hygiene habits are more likely to develop this condition.
Alcohol abuse can lead to gum disease for a number of reasons including:
* It causes irritation to the gum tissue.
* Those individuals who are involved in substance abuse tend to have poor dental hygiene habits. This makes them far more prone to such problems.
* Alcoholics tend to eat poorly, and this leads to nutritional deficiencies which opens the door for all types of disease to arise. These deficiencies in diet can also lower the effectiveness of the immune system and increase the likelihood of developing gum disease.
* Those who abuse alcohol will often ignore the early symptoms of gum disease. This means that an easily treatable case of gingivitis will progress to a more serious condition that involves permanent damage to the teeth and gums.
There are things that people can do to reduce their risk of developing periodontal disease such as:
* Not abusing alcohol.
* Practicing good oral hygiene on a daily basis. This includes brushing the gums – people usually find that this is more easily performed with an electric toothbrush.
* Eating a balanced diet. If people are suffering from any nutritional deficiencies they will need to get these rectified.
* If there is any sign of redness or tenderness observed in the gums then this should be treated right away. It is a bad idea to ignore signs of gum disease.
* It may be a good idea to gargle regularly with mouthwash. Those individuals who are recovering from an alcohol addiction will probably want to use a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol.
* It is a good idea to avoid too much sugary food as this can encourage bacterial growth in the mouth.
* Those individuals who smoke cigarettes should quit right away.
* Regular dental examinations will allow the dentist to check for signs of any problems. The dentist will also be able to get rid of any gum plague that might lead to problems in the future.
The treatment required for gum disease will depend on the seriousness of the condition. Possible options include:
* Gingivitis can usually be solved by a good clean by the dentist and improved dental hygiene at home.
* More serious gum disease problems may require deep cleaning, scaling, and root planing – this is usually done over a number of visits to the dentist.
* Sometimes soft tissue will need to be removed from the gums – this is referred to as gingival curettage.
* In some cases dental surgery may be required to fix the problem.