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Alcohol use and periodontal health: What dentists need to know?

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of Dentistry

Doctoral candidate: BDS MSc (Public Health) Rajeswari Sankaranarayanan

Date and venue: November 15th 2019 at 12 noon, Canthia CA100, Kuopio campus

Language of the public examination: English

Language of the dissertation: English

Harmful use of alcohol is risk for many diseases. Findings based on Finnish national surveys highlight that harmful effects of alcohol use on the tooth supporting structures of the teeth are related to individual characteristics and drinking patterns and behaviours.

Alcohol-related periodontal disease outcomes reflect socioeconomic inequality

The study showed that alcohol use was associated with poor periodontal condition only among certain subgroups and that the harmful effects of alcohol use on the periodontium are dependent on individual factors such as age, gender, and especially SEP. The results highlight the socioeconomic inequality in alcohol-related periodontal disease outcomes.

Light-to-moderate alcohol use appeared not be associated with the development of deepened periodontal pockets. The findings of this dissertation provided evidence that the long-term light-to-moderate alcohol use appeared to have no harmful effect on the periodontal (gum) tissues.             

Data from three national surveys

Due to inconsistent findings from previous studies, it was unclear whether alcohol use can be considered as a risk for periodontal diseases.

Rajeswari Sankaranarayanan conducted her doctoral studies at the Institute of Dentistry, University of Eastern Finland. Her research was based on the Health 2000 Survey, the Follow-up Survey on Finnish Adults’ Oral Health, and the Health 2011 Survey. The study assessed the short-effects of alcohol use on periodontal health in 2000 and long-term effects of alcohol use on periodontal health in 2004 and 2011. Data about the periodontal condition and alcohol use were obtained from the clinical oral examination, questionnaires, and laboratory investigations.

The study emphasizes the socioeconomic inequality in periodontal disease outcomes in relation to alcohol use. These findings can be applied to clinical practice at individual level and for designing policies at population level. The practical applications of this research are not only limited to the alcohol-related oral health advice but also includes effectively employing the common risk factor approach to prevent non-communicable diseases. These findings contribute to the WHO Global Goals for Oral Health 2020 regarding the reduction of periodontal disease and indirectly to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, serving to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases. Additionally, these results will also propel and direct the future research in this field.

The doctoral dissertation of Rajeswari Sankaranarayanan, BDS, MSc (Public Health) in the field of oral public health entitled “Alcohol use and periodontal condition—results of population-based surveys” will be examined at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Finland. The opponent in the public examination will be docent Kimmo Suomalainen from the Tampere University Hospital and the custos will be Professor Liisa Suominen from the University of Eastern Finland.

Photo available for download at

https://kuvapankki.uef.fi/A/UEF+kuvahakemisto/18304?encoding=UTF-8