The Dental Health Foundation (DHF) welcomes the Public Health (Alcohol) (Labelling) Regulations 2023 signed into law this week by the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly T.D. This is the first comprehensive health labelling of alcohol products worldwide. The labels will now state the calorie content and grams of alcohol in the product and warn about the risk of consumption when pregnant. It will also warn of the risk of liver disease and fatal cancers from alcohol consumption.
While alcohol increases the risk factor for oral cancer (6 times higher for alcohol drinkers v’s non-drinkers), we may not be aware that alcohol goes to work immediately when in contact with the mucosal lining of the mouth. Excessive alcohol consumption can be damaging because our mouths are the hub of whole-body health and can lead to both tooth decay and gum disease. The acid in alcohol, and in some soft drinks combined in a typical traditional drink, can contribute to decay and tooth enamel erosion.
Alcohol contains sugar and the bacteria living in the plaque in your mouth feed on the sugar and in turn, produce acid. Known as an ‘acid attack’ this weakens the enamel on teeth and enables tooth decay to form. The frequency of this attack in sipping concentrated sugar greatly increases the risk of tooth decay.
Saliva is the body’s natural oral health conductor, and sweeps food particles away from gums and teeth, covering teeth in a thin film that reduces the risk of acid production and keeps the mouth moist. * Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration leading to lower saliva production and dry mouth.
Being aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption through the introduction of labelling will give the consumer an opportunity to make informed choices.