Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How Do Drug Addictions Affect Your Teeth?

October 23rd through October 31st is National Red Ribbon Week, which aims to raise awareness to the dangers of illegal drugs. I don’t claim to have the answers on how to keep people off of drugs, but I would like to take a look at how some drugs can affect your oral health and your teeth. Below we will briefly discuss the dental concerns that substances like heroin and crystal meth can create.
The first issue that can arise for those with substance abuse problems is a lack of proper oral hygiene and homecare. Unfortunately, the addiction can become so devastating that people will forget to brush or floss for days at a time. Their only priorities revolve around their addiction, and oral health takes a back seat. If problems do develop and pain is associated with their teeth or mouth, they will then self medicate with more drugs to feel better. It is a brutal cycle and can have destructive long term effects on their teeth and gums.
Substances like crystal meth and heroin often lead tooth decay resulting from dry mouth and an increased affinity towards sweets. Methamphetamines can cause the salivary glands to stop functioning properly, and our saliva is a key component in fighting tooth decay. Substances like heroin also cause users to crave sweets and sugary drinks. The sugary substances, combined with a lack of homecare, often increase the propensity of developing large cavities and serious gum disease. These factors often result in the condition commonly referred to as ‘meth mouth.’
Drug addictions can be debilitating to both the user and their families, and dental concerns are just one of the many issues they may face. We will always try to help work through these dental issues for anyone in need, but we encourage you to find the proper help for those affected by substance abuse problems.

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Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

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