Alcohol Abuse: More Than Just a Hangover?

Andonisio, Gina, Stephanie Enright, Lauren Hallman, and Jayme Judd

Drinking alcohol, used by some as a relaxer or reliever of stress, can cause greater effects than just a feeling of euphoria. The frequency in which individuals have been consuming alcohol has increased greatly throughout the last several years (Blazer, pg. 1162). When the occasional glass of wine, beer, or liquor leads to alcohol abuse detrimental effects to a person’s health can occur, especially in the oral cavity.  Based on a United States survey it was shown that rates of periodontal disease and toothlessness in alcohol abusers were three times greater than the national average (Harris, pg. 1709). For the purpose of this study alcohol abuse is defined as those who “binge drink” or drink in excessive frequency (alcoholics), more than 14-34 drinks per week (Kongstad, pg. 1033). This review of the literature will examine how alcohol abuse can lead to increased caries rates, increased risk of periodontal disease, and formation of oral cancer.