Alcoholism is significant in dentistry because it may be accompanied by general self-neglect. Oral hygiene may suffer, and the continuous exposure of the oral soft tissues to alcohol may be a risk factor in development of oral cancer.
It is important to understand that dental treatment (especially surgical treatment) may be complicated by excessive or long-term alcohol consumption. Patients with alcoholism are frequently prone to bleeding and bruising more easily, and may experience prolonged bleeding times before clot formation. This is mainly due to altered liver function, as the liver produces various substances that are important in blood clotting. Alcoholics may also experience impaired wound healing and greater susceptibility to infection. Prescribing sedatives, antibiotics and pain relievers needs to be done with caution in alcoholic patients, due to the interaction of those medications with alcohol.
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