New research indicates that UK students who embark on nights of binge drinking are not only killing precious brain cells, they’re also forgetting to do something very important: brush their teeth.
The study was published in the Journal of Periodontal Research, with researchers observing the gum health of over 800 students. Those who forgot to brush their teeth following a night of libations increased their risk of gum disease.
“I don’t think it is unfair to say that a large proportion of students in the UK like a few drinks and are probably aware of how this affects their general health, especially when they wake up the next day, but they probably overlook the very harmful effects this can have on their dental health,” noted Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation.
“The start of the university year in particular is a time which students need to ensure they look after themselves as cheap alcohol deals during ‘fresher’s week’ can lead to excessive drinking. Forgetting to brush after drinking can lead to some serious problems for their teeth, something which they probably don’t want to deal with while trying to find their way in their studies. Thankfully maintaining a healthy mouth and preventing these problems is a relatively easy thing to do.”
Statistics indicate some 15 percent of young adults admit to binge drinking regularly, which puts them at much greater risk of gum disease.
“University students are, in my experience, some of the most outspoken voices on good dental health and as they are becoming more and more knowledgeable and aware of the importance of looking after their teeth and I am seeing first hand their desire to spread positive messages to other students,” remarked Professor Elizabeth Kay, Foundation Dean for the Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University and trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation.
“With a record number of people entering university this year there is a real potential to positively influence more people than ever on the dangers of excessive drinking. This will ensure they take the necessary measures to ensure they look after their dental health right from the first day of their studies.”
Other negative oral health consequences from heavy drinking include tooth decay, as alcohol contains high amounts of sugar that create “acidic breeding grounds” for plaque and bacteria. Alcohol also causes dehydration, which leads to dry mouth and subsequently greater risk of tooth decay. The mouth needs saliva to flush food particles and bacteria from the mouth. Mouth cancer risk increase is another problem from drinking too much.
“Using a straw to drink will help to minimize the length of time that the drink is in contact with the teeth and could offer more protection against decay or acid erosion,” advises Dr. Carter. “Once you get home do not brush your teeth straight away, you need to wait for one hour after the last drink to allow the enamel to remineralize and prevent brushing away any loosened particles. After this time has passed you should brush and floss your teeth before going to bed.
“If you often forget to do this, leave your toothbrush on your pillow before you go out to remind you to spend a couple of minutes brushing as soon as you can.”