Just a couple of glasses of wine a week could loosen the fillings in your teeth, new research claims.
A study by the University of Pittsburgh found that, compared to teetotalers, people who drink any amount of alcohol are more likely to lose their fillings within two years – regardless of the filling material.
The failure rate was highest among male drinkers who smoke cigarettes.
But there was no major difference in filling failure rates between traditional amalgam and newer composite resin fillings, researchers found.
It suggests that lifestyle choices – such as drinking or smoking – influence the chance of dental filling failure far more than the choice of filling material.
The University of Pittsburgh study suggested lifestyle choices – such as drinking – influence the chance of dental filling failure more than the choice of filling material (file image)
The study also found people with a specific enzyme in their teeth were more likely to have a filling fall out since the gene weakens the bond between the tooth and the filling.
Fillings can fail for a variety of reasons, including reemergence of the initial tooth decay or the filling becoming detached.
Until now, researchers said the jury has been out on whether newer composite resin fillings are as durable as traditional amalgam fillings, which have been in use for more than 150 years – but which contain mercury, a toxic metal.
Researchers from America and Brazil accessed a large repository of dental records from a dental school in Pittsburgh, which contained information on patient fillings and rates of failure up to five years after the filling procedure.
They found that overall, there were no major differences between patients receiving amalgam or composite fillings in terms of filling failure rates.
This suggested composite fillings are at least as durable as amalgam fillings, and offer a viable alternative with no toxic ingredients.
The repository also contained information about patient lifestyles, including smoking and drinking habits, and a DNA sample from each patient.
This allowed the researchers to investigate whether patient lifestyle and genetic factors could affect the failure rate of composite fillings.
They also discovered that a difference in the gene for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP2), an enzyme found in teeth, was linked to increased filling failure.
The researchers believe that MMP2 might be able to degrade the bond between the filling and the tooth surface, potentially leading to failure.
They have not yet confirmed whether differences in the MMP2 gene are responsible for failed fillings, and will need to investigate further.
But the results suggest that personal factors for each patient appear to influence their chance of filling failure, rather than the filling material their dentist used.
Researcher Alexandre Vieira, of the University of Pittsburgh, said: ‘A better understanding of individual susceptibility to dental disease and variation in treatment outcomes will allow the dental field to move forward.
‘In the future, genetic information may be used to personalise dental treatments and enhance treatment outcomes.’
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.