While the Covid-19 restrictions have reportedly seen an increase in alcohol consumption, dentists warn that regular alcohol can lead to a range of mouth-related health issues, including oral cancers, tooth decay and gum disease.
A number of potentially problematic alcohol use behaviours during Covid-19 were recorded in a recent Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) survey, including nearly 1 in 7 (13%) of Australian drinkers being concerned about the amount of alcohol they consume.
The results of the survey also revealed that 11% of respondents reported drinking to copy with anxiety and stress, and 14% reported drinking daily.
“Strong evidence shows that long-term high levels of alcohol consumption increases the risk of oral cancer by about four-fold,” says Professor Michael McCullough from the University of Melbourne and the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) Specialist Working Group.
Professor McCullough adds that the risk increases to “around 15-fold” for those who also smoke.
With more than four people diagnosed with oral cancer in Australia, daily, Professor McCullough says it’s important to be examined by a dentist if there are changes in the mouth, such as unusual ulcers, lumps, bumps or areas that have changed in colour and persisted for more than two weeks.
“Irrespective of what level of Covid-19 lockdowns prevail across Australia, anyone should be examined by a dentist if they’re concerned about changes in their mouth that have been persisting.
“An examination of troubling areas of the mouth could make an enormous difference to longevity and quality of life.
“However, prevention is much preferred with drinking in moderation and smoking cessation being key.”
Australian Department of Health guidelines stipulate that to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury for healthy men and women, 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day is the maximum.
A standard drink is a 285ml glass of full-strength beer, a 375ml mid strength can or bottle of beer, and a 100ml glass of red or white wine.
For more on what a standard drink looks like, visit: