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Alcohol & Smoking


Many of us enjoy a drink but excessive drinking, over time, can lead to damage in many systems of the body, including the mouth. The overuse of alcohol may result in not paying sufficient attention to regular oral hygiene, risking gum disease and infections.

Risks and effects

Heavy drinking, especially if combined with smoking, is a major cause of mouth cancer. The more alcohol consumed the greater the risk of developing cancer of the mouth, a potentially serious disease.

Red wine can contribute to tooth-staining and all alcohol may make your breath smell, so regular visits to the hygienist and good oral hygiene are essential.

The acidity in alcohol can contribute to the erosion of the tooth surface. In addition, regular binge drinking and vomiting will exacerbate the problem by exposing the teeth to the acid produced in the stomach.

If you suffer any liver damage, you may be prone to infections in and around the mouth, like cold sores, abscesses and candida (thrush).

You can help – your responsibilities

  • Strive for moderation. The advised limits are no more than 14 units a week.
  • A daily oral care routine and basic dental hygiene should be a priority.
  • If you are keen to stop or cut down on alcohol use, your doctor can put you in touch with relevant, helpful organisations.

What Your Dentist Can Offer

  • Regular dental check ups will help identify any problems at an early stage.
  • Regular visits to the hygienist will help with tooth staining.


Smoking damages almost every system of the body and is the largest single cause of death and disability in the UK and Ireland.

Risks and effects

In addition to the more general health risks, smoking can have a number of adverse effects on oral health too. Among the most serious is the significantly increased risk of oral cancer and gum disease.

Smoking also stains and damages your teeth, due to the tar and nicotine content, and affects your sense of taste. It may cause bad breath, particularly if oral hygiene is not meticulously followed.

You can help – your responsibilities

  • Extrinsic staining can be avoided by a thorough oral hygiene programme of brushing and flossing.
  • As one of the most powerful addictions, most people will need some help in quitting. Speak with your doctor or call the Smokefree National Helpline (0300 123 1044)

What Your Dentist Can Offer

  • Regular dental check ups will help identify any problems at an early stage.
  • Tissue changes in the mouth – that might signal the onset of oral cancer – can often be seen and felt by your dentist.
  • Special mouth rinses are available which may reveal signs of cancer normally invisible to the eye.
  • Regular examinations, to ensure teeth, gums and the whole mouth are healthy.
  • You may be referred more regularly to the hygienist for thorough cleaning.

Giving up smoking is not easy, but the benefits start immediately and last a lifetime. It is never too late to stop, stopping smoking will prolong your life.


  • Oral Cancer Check Oral or mouth cancer is an abnormal growth that can occur in any part of the mouth.
  • Go smoke free When you go smoke free you are four times more likely to succeed if you use NHS support.
  • Contact Us If you need advice on any matters please call us on 01932-220111 and our friendly staff will be pleased to help.