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Drinking Alcohol May Negatively Impact The Microbiome and Oral Health

Alcohol consumption may also increase microbial populations linked to periodontal diseases, cardiovascular disease, and head and neck cancers.

Patients may wish to reconsider their drinking habits due to recent findings that heavy drinkers may experience higher concentrations of pathogenic microflora (such as Actinomyces, Bacteroidales, and Neisseria) in the oral microbiome than nondrinkers or those who use alcohol in moderation. Alcohol consumption may also increase microbial populations linked to periodontal diseases, cardiovascular disease, and head and neck cancers. The study, “Drinking Alcohol Is Associated With Variation in the Human Oral Microbiome in a Large Study of American Adults,” published in Microbiome, found that drinkers have fewer beneficial commensal bacteria than nondrinkers.

Researchers analyzed mouthrinse samples provided by 1,044 adult subjects who self-identified as nondrinkers (26%), moderate drinkers (59%), or heavy drinkers (15%), the latter defined as more than a drink per day for women, or two drinks per day for men. Noting the effect on oral microbial composition appears to be dose dependent, the authors suggest that alcohol intake may influence the oral microbiome—as well as systemic and oral health—through the “direct cytotoxic effects on bacteria, disturbing saliva-bacterium interactions, and providing ethanol as a substrate for bacterial metabolism.” They also theorize “improved understanding of oral dysbiosis might lead to microbiome-targeted approaches to disease prevention.”

Hygiene Connection E-Newsletter
June 2018

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