If you’re like most people, the odds are good that your idea of a healthy lifestyle begins and ends with making sure you eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and get exercise as much as you can.
And while both of these factors are crucially important in keeping you fit and healthy, the reality is that your oral health, that is how good a state your teeth and gums are in, has a major effect on your overall health.
Gum disease, for instance, has been linked to a raft of ailments including pneumonia, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and exacerbated diabetes symptoms.
It’s why brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily and seeing your dentist on a regular basis are so important.
But that’s not where the story ends.
Smoking, drinking, prescribed and non-prescribed medications, illicit drug use, tongue and lip piercing, and stress, all have a significant effect on how healthy your teeth and gums are, and hence, how healthy you are overall.
Nothing in your body happens in a vacuum and everything you do to your body will inevitably have an effect on your oral health and, sooner or later, on your health overall.
It’s not simply the heightened risk of developing oral cancer, serious though that is, that should be a concern for anyone who drinks on a regular basis or to excess.
The sugar and acidity of alcohol are major contributors to teeth erosion, as is the acid reflux which accompanies vomiting, an all too common consequence of a night of heavy drinking.
Compounding the damage is the fact that many people stumble home and go straight to sleep after a big night out, only brushing their teeth the next morning, leaving their mouth unprotected from erosion and decay all night.
Alcohol also dehydrates you, which affects how much saliva your mouth produces, and hence, how much protection your teeth are given.
Drinking lots of water both when you’re out partying, and the next day when you’re recovering is one way to remedy the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, as is limiting the amount of soft drinks you consume.