A new study suggests that excessive drinking could create unhealthy mixes of bacteria in the drinkers’ mouths.
When compared with those who didn’t drink, those who did drink a lot had fewer good bacteria in their mouths. Not only that, their mouths hosted more bad bacteria than nondrinkers. These include bugs linked to gum and heart disease as well as cancer.
This study looks into factors that influence the human microbiome. There have been many studies that found connections between our microbiomes and risks of varying diseases.
In simple terms, studies have shown the more diversity there is in a microbiome, the better.
What Does Excessive Drinking do to our Oral Biomes?
Research has also found that should there be an imbalance in the microbiome of the mouth, there is an increased risk of both cavities and gum disease. Cancers of the head, digestive tract, and neck are also a possibility along with heart disease.
The study was to see what lifestyle choices affected our oral biomes, and alcohol was a prominent factor to consider. Other studies have shown that drinking can change the types of bacteria found in the mouth.
This study looked at samples of mouthwash from 1,044 adults who were a part of two ongoing cancer studies. About one-fourth of the adults said they were nondrinkers, 59 percent said they drank moderately, and 15 percent drank heavily.
Through this study, it was found that drinkers, particularly the heavy drinkers, had relatively fewer Lactobacillales. This kind of good bacteria is often used in probiotic supplements.
Bad bacteria were also present in higher levels in the mouths of drinkers. Particularly Bacteroidales, Neisseria, and Actinomyces species.
It is unclear, however, what these findings might mean. They do not explicitly prove that alcohol explains these differences according to a professor of dental medicine, Yiping Han.
There could be many different influences on the oral microbiome according to Han. Anything from someone’s diet, dental care or even income and other related demographics can play a role.
The study did take some of those factors into consideration, including age, race, if they smoked, education, and weight. The study lead does admit there could have been other differences between the different groups that they hadn’t considered.
It is uncertain why alcohol would create more bad bacteria and less good bacteria. But the bottom line is, it’s always a good idea to keep a healthy lifestyle. And when it comes to alcohol, moderation is still vital.