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Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2011 Jan;30(175):69-74.

[The influence of alcohol on the oral cavity, salivary glands and saliva].

[Article in Polish]

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Uniwersytet Medyczny w BiaƂymstoku, Klinika Psychiatrii.


Ethanol diffuses rapidly into saliva during the drinking, and immediately after its salivary concentration is temporarily much higher than in plasma. Within 30 minutes, salivary ethanol concentration equilibrates with the plasma level, thus suggesting that ethanol easily penetrates the whole body, including oral cavity tissues and salivary glands. After alcohol intake, the level of acetaldehyde in saliva strikingly exceeds the level in systemic blood. From saliva, acetaldehyde and ethanol easily reach all local tissues. Damage to the oral tissues seems to be ascribed mostly to the action of acetaldehyde, although some acute effects depend on a direct action of ethanol and formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs). It is known that the oral mucosal surface is the home of numerous normal flora microorganisms and is the portal of entry for the majority of pathogens. The oral cavity and salivary antimicrobial immune defense systems eliminate pathogens and prevent massive overgrowth of microorganisms. An oral defense system participate in the protection of not only oral tissues, but also in the protection of upper digestive and respiratory tracts, against a number of microbial pathogens. Saliva plays the role in the oral cavity lubrication, maintenance of mucosal and tooth integrity, esophageal physiology, digestion and gastric cytoprotection. As alcohol abuse affects the structure and function of oral cavity mucosa, salivary glands and saliva, the maintenance of oral and general health under normal conditions is seriously impaired during the drinking. The severe tissue damage occurs in particular when alcohol abuse coincides with smoking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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