Alcohol intake and periodontal outcomes
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OBJECTIVE: Periodontal disease is a highly prevalent inflammatory disease with a wide range of causes and clinical manifestations. Excessive alcohol consumption is a significant public health problem, and is a risk factor for a variety of diseases; however, the relationship between alcohol intake and overall oral health remains unclear. This study seeks to identify the relationship between heavy alcohol consumption (consuming two or more drinks per day) and specific indicators of periodontal health. METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis utilized data from the Dental Longitudinal Study, a longitudinal study conducted at the Boston Veterans Affairs medical center, in which the initial cohort consisted of healthy male veterans residing in Greater Boston. Using demographic and behavioral information collected from surveys, and oral health data collected from clinical examinations, bivariate data analysis was conducted to compare periodontal health outcomes between those who drank less than two drinks per day (non-drinkers and moderate drinkers, n = 949) and those who drank two or more drinks per day (heavy drinkers, n = 237). Selected oral health outcomes for analysis were indicators of poor periodontal health and included: number of teeth, bleeding on probing, calculus and plaque levels, tooth mobility, alveolar bone loss, periodontal pocket depth measurements, and gingival recession. RESULTS: Results showed that the heavy alcohol consumption group was significantly associated with increased whole mouth mean alveolar bone loss and with periodontal pocket depths exceeding 4mm and 5mm, with a trend in heavy drinkers to have more teeth with increased levels of pocket depth. DISCUSSION: The detected association between heavy drinking and alveolar bone loss and pocket depth measurement is a significant clinical finding, and suggests that alcohol intake should be minimized in the interest of periodontal health. The results of this study point towards the need for future longitudinal studies to investigate the possible role of alcohol as a risk factor for periodontal outcomes.