Health and Science

People who drink alcohol have dirty mouths crawling with bad bacteria, study suggests

Ashley May
Getty Images

Alcohol drinkers are more likely to have mouths full of bad bacteria, according to a study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Microbiome.

Researchers found drinking alcohol, especially heavy drinking, could negatively influence the oral microbiome composition (translation: the bacteria in your mouth). Drinkers tend to have more bad bacteria such as Bacteroidales, Actinomyces, and Neisseria species, and fewer good bacteria including Lactobacillales, which is often used in probiotic food supplements to prevent sickness.

"Our study offers clear evidence that drinking is bad for maintaining a healthy balance of microbes in the mouth and could help explain why drinking, like smoking, leads to bacterial changes already tied to cancer and chronic disease," lead author and epidemiologist Jiyoung Ahn said in a release.

In the four-year-long study led by New York University School of Medicine, researchers included more than a thousand Americans, some of whom drank exclusively beer, wine or liquor.

This is the first study linking alcohol consumption with oral bacteria, according to the study authors. More research must be done to determine if drinking truly does impact oral health.

More from USA Today:
U.S. should lower alcohol recommendation because booze shortens our lives, study says
The scientific reason why your accent gets stronger when you drink
These are America's drunkest states