Individuals undergoing treatment for alcohol use disorders exhibit increased risk for impaired oral health. We conducted a study to assess oral health and demographic characteristics of inpatients under treatment for alcohol use disorders.
Thirty-four inpatients, 24 male and 10 female, with diverse ethnicity, were recruited in a rehabilitation center for alcohol use disorders in Buffalo, NY. Before undergoing oral examination, subjects completed a questionnaire on dental hygiene, associated behaviors, and demographic characteristics. Information regarding patients' oral health was collected using plaque, gingival, and decayed, missing or filled teeth (DMF) indices, and by examining soft tissue and evaluating signs of abrasion, erosion, and attrition. Statistical analysis determined prevalence and descriptive characteristics.
Alcohol intake for the population was, on average, 45.7 drinks/week, and 61.8% had smoked cigarettes within the past month. Patients were missing 15.1% of their teeth. Of teeth examined, 13.5% had dental caries. Prevalence of soft tissue abnormalities was 35.3%, prevalence of tooth erosion was 47.1%, and prevalence of moderate/severe gingival inflammation was 82.3%. Although study participants reported brushing at least once a day, 70.6% of subjects presented with heavy dental plaque accumulation. Most participants (85.3%) described the condition of their mouth and teeth as fair or poor. Finally, we observed a satisfactory participation rate among those who qualified for the study.
Oral examination showed significant levels of dental caries, gingival inflammation, soft tissue abnormalities, and tooth erosion. In addition, this study indicates that patients undergoing treatment for alcohol use disorders evidence poor oral health, and are at heightened risk for the development of periodontal disease.