As the UK’s one-month alcohol-free challenge, Dry January aims to make a difference to our lives and improve our overall health by taking a break from drinking following the festive season. The challenge has proven to have multiple health benefits, including those relating to your dental and oral health. According to the Oral Health Foundation, drinking alcohol to excess is linked to one in three mouth cancers, and around 40 million British adults regularly consume alcoholic drinks.1
The potential improvements for your dental health during Dry January include lowering your risks of developing mouth cancer, losing teeth and tooth decay. However, it is also beneficial to other aspects of your life. The campaign showed that 86% of participants save money throughout the month, 70% have better sleep, 66% have more energy, and 65% of people noticed improvement in their general health.2
Consuming large amounts of alcohol can also become a massive contributor to our sugar intake. According to The Oral Health Foundation, one pint of larger can contain a quarter of our recommended daily intake, as can two large glasses of white wine. Other alcoholic drinks like fruity ciders and cocktails are also packed with sugar, and can increase your chances of developing tooth decay significantly.1
Drinks such as white wine, cider and beer can also be very acidic, which can cause erosion of the enamel on our teeth and lead to sensitivity and pain.1
Cancer Research UK has found that the risk of oral cancer is 32% higher in those who drink alcohol regularly3, compared to those who don’t. Alcohol is known to contribute to your risk of oral and throat cancers, and this risk is increased further if you smoke as well. This is because alcohol may change how toxic chemicals from tobacco smoke are broken down in the body, and makes it easier for them to pass through the mouth into the bloodstream.3
Other ways that cutting down on your alcohol intake can impact your dental health can be related to your behaviour whilst you drink. Alcohol increases your likelihood of acting aggressively and getting into fights or accidents that can result in major damage to your teeth. Similarly, it can alter your ability to remember to keep up with your daily dental hygiene routine such as brushing your teeth twice a day.4
Are you participating in Dry January this year? Consider improving your dental and general health by taking a break from alcohol this month – studies have shown that Dry January can subsequently decrease your drinking even after the challenge is over, and therefore extend the health benefits and lower your risk of mouth cancer, decay and damage to your teeth.