While most are familiar with the negative aspects associated with alcohol, smoking and drug addiction, not many think of the ways these substances are detrimental to dental health. Dentists nationwide witness firsthand the correlation between drugs and dental health.
From robbing the body of important nutrients, creating harmful side effects such as tooth grinding and jaw clenching, and wearing away enamel; drugs, alcohol and smoking are a sure way to ruin adult teeth. Those dealing with drug or other substance addictions should schedule an appointment with a dentist to have their teeth assessed for damage. There are methods and treatments that focus on dental restoration, repair, and can bring back a bright and healthy smile.
It isn’t just illegal or illicit substances that pose a threat to oral health. Alcohol and smoking both are damaging to gums and teeth. Alcoholics often have noticeable tooth decay and many times those dealing with alcoholism refrain from going to a dentist. Alcohol is a drying substance that reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth. Combine the high sugar content in many alcoholic drinks and one can easily see the damage alcoholism may have on teeth. There really is no way to prevent alcohol from damaging teeth than to drink in moderation. For those struggling with alcoholism, tooth decay and gum disease is a serious threat. No matter how long the addiction, it is never a wise idea to delay visiting a dentist. In addition to treatments and methods used to prevent further damage, there are cosmetic procedures available that can help anyone regain their smile.
Smoking is associated with tooth discoloration and many smokers who neglect dental cleanings may experience a buildup of tar on the enamel. It isn’t uncommon for smokers to complain of yellowing or brown stains on the teeth that are not removed with traditional methods. Unfortunately, tooth discoloration isn’t the only problem to affect a smoker’s mouth. One of the most serious effects of smoking on oral health is periodontal disease. The poisonous gasses contained in cigarettes essentially flood the mouth and gums, causing gums to pull away from teeth or recede. Smoking is one of the most prevalent causes of gum disease and can interfere with prescribed treatments and their effectiveness. If left untreated, periodontal disease can result in tooth decay, cavities, bone loss, trouble with the jaw and some studies show a possible link between poor oral health and certain cancers.
Illicit drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamines (meth), and heroin have all been linked to dental decay and oral health issues. Methamphetamines are notorious for causing dental issues; the condition is so frequent that addicts are said to suffer from “meth mouth.” Cocaine users sometimes place the drug directly on their gums. This action can cause a host of problems including erosion of tooth enamel, recession of the gums and mouth ulcers. Tooth grinding is associated with heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy use. Because those who are addicted to illicit substances begin to neglect their health and appearance, it isn’t uncommon for users to neglect daily tooth brushing and flossing. When combined with other damaging behaviors, the result is often a disaster for dental health.
Those who have lost much of their lives to alcohol, drugs or smoking do not have to suffer with oral health issues. There are treatments available as well as knowledgeable, professional dentists who can assess the damage and help institute a plan for recovery. If a tooth cannot be repaired, crowns or veneers may be needed. In serious cases of damage, dentures may be required. Dentists will assess the extent of any periodontal disease or gingivitis and recommend methods that will promote healing. Never let a past or even current addiction prevent you from getting the care that you need. Dental decay affects more than your smile. It is a precursor to serious health problems that can spread from your gums to your jawbone and more. There is help available regardless the degree of dental decay or deterioration. A healthy smile may be enjoyed once again.
- Alcohol Abuse, Higher Incidence of Oral Health Problems Linked
- Postmenopausal Women who Smoked are more Likely to Lose Teeth due to Periodontal Disease
- Meth Destroys Lives, Teeth
- Meth in the Mouth (PDF)
- Teeth and Drug Use
- Why Dental Practitioners Need to Understand Substance Use and Abuse (PDF)
- Ecstasy and Teeth Grinding
- Drug Addiction and Periodontal Disease
- Methamphetamine Abuse Undermines Dental Health
- Smoking and Gum Disease