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Dry January… The Halfway Mark

If you have been doing Dry January we just wanted to say well done and keep up the hard work, you’re almost halfway there. More and more people have been taking part in the campaign, organised by Alcohol Change. It started almost a decade ago with 40,000 people registered to take part, a number which rose to 130,000 in 2021 and this year is reported to be around 200,000. Of course, that’s only the number of people who have registered and are completing it for a charity, there are projections that in reality up to half a million people across the UK are taking part this month. The steep rise in participation is credited to the significant rise in sales of alcohol for home consumption, namely due to Covid.

Why are people doing Dry January?

It offers us a chance to give our liver a rest by abstaining from alcohol after a potentially alcohol-heavy Christmas period. However, cutting out alcohol for a month will do more than just give your liver a break- it will greatly improve your oral health as well! Drinking an excess of alcohol can contribute to a plethora of oral health issues, from tooth decay to mouth cancer, so it’s useful to know exactly how alcohol disturbs the balance of the oral ecosystem, and why reducing alcohol consumption throughout the year might be something to consider.

What is the effect on your body from doing Dry January?

A month alcohol-free has a lot of benefits: research published in 2018, conducted by the Royal Free Hospital and published in the British Medical Journal, found that a month off:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces diabetes risk
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.

According to Alcohol Change, if you have been taking part over the last fortnight you will have noticed these changes in your body:

Day 1: You possibly found it difficult to fall asleep initially, if you were a regular moderate drinker

Day 3: Some people may have experienced hangover like symptoms, potentially from lack of hydration

Day 5: You possibly started craving the sugar that you are no longer getting from alcohol. Ultimately this will lead to you feeling sharper, with improved concentration

Day 7: Your sleep will likely have improved significantly, with an improved pattern and more consistency but you may start experiencing more and more vivid dreams

Day 10+: Your mood will have increased and you will probably have started feeling less sluggish and more energised

If you’re having a wobble and feel like giving up

If you are struggling and not sure whether you’ll keep going, just remember this, research conducted by the University of Sussex has found that six months after Dry January more than 70% of people who take part are still drinking more healthily. On top of that, they have boosted levels of wellbeing, and much more besides. Alcohol is linked with more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer. In fact, alcohol is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability for people aged 15-49 in the UK. Cutting back on alcohol long-term reduces your risk of developing these conditions.

How can Alcohol affect my teeth?

The most significant way in which alcohol affects your teeth is through enamel erosion- many alcoholic drinks are highly acidic, making it easy for your enamel to be stripped away, leading to sensitivity, tooth decay and potential gum disease. As we all know, alcohol can leave you very dehydrated, and this has ramifications for our oral health too! Saliva flow is heavily reduced when dehydrated, which is a problem as saliva protects our teeth from decay through the neutralisation of acids- without saliva, our teeth are defenceless against decay. In addition to this, studies have shown that drinking an excess of alcohol greatly increases the risk of contracting mouth cancer- and if you tend to smoke when you drink, the chances of developing the disease become 30 times more likely! As mouth cancer is one of the few cancers that are on the rise, understanding the link between alcohol consumption and oral cancer is more important than ever.

One of the most common ways in which your oral health can go downhill is simply through neglect of a regular oral hygiene routine. It can be easy to forget to brush your teeth after a night on the town, or whilst feeling a little worse for wear the morning after, yet maintaining a regular brushing schedule is essential if you value your oral health.

These are just some of the many reasons why alcohol is damaging to your oral health, and why your mouth as well as your liver will thank you for undertaking Dry January and potentially cutting down on alcohol intake altogether over the course of 2022. If you are experiencing any issues with your dental health, alcohol related or otherwise, don’t hesitate to give us at London Holistic Dental Centre a call on 020 7487 5221 and we’ll book you an appointment as soon as possible.