- Written by Marcel Gemme C.C.D.C
Substance Abuse and Its Effects on Teeth
Initially, health experts have looked at the effects of substance abuse on different organs of the body without realizing that teeth problems are as serious. It is actually not surprising that the teeth suffer from damage almost immediately. Drug users are obviously unconcerned about their oral hygiene, which leads to them having serious problems, including, rotting, blackened, stained and even falling teeth.
Illegal Drugs and Oral Problems
Since most drugs, even those prescribed, contain sugar or come in sugarcoated pills or tablets, the risk for tooth decay is increased with a frequent use. However, there are other side effects of substance abuse, which vary depending on the kind of drug being abused.
Ecstasy – more commonly known as “E” or the “love drug," this highly-illegal drug can cause dry mouth, jaw clenching and teeth grinding problems. Many dentists have also observed that ecstasy users suffer from tooth erosion, particularly due to the stomach acids that rise up when the person vomits.
Cocaine – since a lot of users rub cocaine on their gums, an acidic condition in the mouth is created, which ultimately damages the enamel of the teeth. With the enamel eroded, the teeth will now be at risk for decay.
Heroin – abuse of this drug results to user craving for sugary foods and drinks, which directly increase chances of tooth decay.
Methamphetamine – this substance abuse in itself is highly acidic, which corrodes the tooth’s enamel. It is composed of anhydrous ammonia and corrosive substances like muriatic acid, red phosphorus and lithium. Furthermore, users crave sweet foods for a quick energy boost, which exposes the teeth to serious tooth decay problems. Individuals who are addicted to methamphetamine are known to have a condition called “meth mouth," characterized by decaying teeth and dry mouth.
Alcohol and Teeth Problems
Similar to the effects of illegal drugs on teeth, alcohol drinkers are prone to tooth decay due to the high sugar and alcohol content which increase acid levels in the mouth.
If you notice any of the signs of teeth problems in your loved ones, you should raise the question of drug abuse. You will be surprised at how some chronic drug users do not notice such teeth damage and will not seek medical attention until too late.
Drug abuse and addiction are a condition that can be treated with the right information and know-how. Keep in mind that there is help available and there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Accepting that you have a drug problem is the first step towards long-term rehabilitation.