Illicit drug use and substance abuse are increasing at an alarming rate. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states some facts which show that 23.4% of adults in America are intoxicating substances. The severity of cases is such that it starts affecting the user’s physical and mental quality of life.
These are dreadful for numerous reasons. But can drugs and substance abuse affect your dental hygiene too? Yes, it does follow with unfavorable oral health concerns apart from damaging lungs, heart, and brain. You may not see an immediate impact on your teeth, but the damage will gradually show up if you do not address the issue.
Here are a few ways in which different drug addiction can harm your dental health.
Cavities and Tooth Decay with Meth Use
Meth or methamphetamine is a drug that damages your oral health. 96% of people using meth reported cases of cavities, and 58% of them had tooth decay. It also causes severe tooth discoloration, inflammation, and infection in both teeth and gums. “Meth mouth” is the term in the medical dictionary.
Some reasons for this condition include:
- The drug is acidic and blocks regular saliva production. Saliva is responsible for carrying food particles and keeping the teeth clean. When there is a halt in production, it results in dry mouth.
- Tooth decay and breakage due to clenching and grinding are some side effects of meth use.
- Chemicals like lithium and sulfuric acid in the drug harm the enamel of the teeth. It causes erosion from early use.
- Sores in different areas of the mouth give rise to infection.
Plaque due to Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol, as an intoxicating substance, can make a user addictive. Intense drinkers are prone to issues like gum disease, mouth infections, and decay. Sugar as an ingredient in alcohol is a contributory factor towards teeth and gum issues. The use of fermented sugars in such drinks is the reason behind the plaque. The substance also causes dehydration and dry mouth. Again less flow of saliva allows an increase of gum diseases.
The claim that alcohol kills mouth bacteria is true, but it kills the good ones and leaves the bad ones behind. A study found that alcoholics’ mouth contains bad bacteria, which can eventually hamper their oral hygiene.
Similar to meth, alcohol is also acidic. The acid reflux can give rise to stomach acids that can erode the teeth. Liquor can also cause tooth discoloration. Any alcohol-containing color such as red wine can stain the teeth. So, to cure stained teeth one can use teeth whitening products from trusted sources like SNOW.
Gingival and Periodontal Disease from Cocaine Abuse
One of the associations of cocaine abuse and dental health is the gingival and periodontal disease. The Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology published a report that states any form of substance abuse can lead to poor oral hygiene xerostomia and periodontal diseases. It includes the chronic inflammatory condition of the gums and tissues near the teeth. Teeth grinding or bruxing is another symptom contributing to the disease.
If you smoke cocaine, the acid in it covers your teeth, which results in continuing teeth erosion. It further leads to gum disease and tooth decay. And when you wipe the substance on the gingival tissue, it will bruise your mouth and cause gingival lesions. Besides that, sniffing cocaine can harm the tissues in the upper palate resulting in a tear between the nose and the mouth. Cocaine users also display a movement disorder in the jaw that causes mouth-related muscle contraction.
Dry Mouth, Gum Disease, and Cancer from Marijuana and Tobacco Use
There are chances of cancer through tobacco consumption. Smoking marijuana can cause an imbalance of acid and dryness in the mouth. The smoke rising from the combustion of the materials emits substances like carcinogens, which can cause cancer. Continuous use of marijuana can also develop a syndrome called cannabinoid hyperemesis that accompanied by symptoms like vomiting. If such symptoms continue to show up commonly, the stomach acid landing in your mouth will erode the enamel of the teeth causing decay.
As for tobacco, chewing the substance puts the user at risk of having oral or throat cancer. Addiction to it can cause periodontal diseases and produce bacterial plaque. Another effect of smoking is it causes tooth staining, as tobacco includes nicotine and tar. Throughout incessant use, you will notice your teeth turning yellow. Find out a local pain-free dentist in your area to treat the concerns effectively.
Oral Fungus and Viral Infections through Opioids
The heroine is an opioid drug that can cause rigorous damage to your oral health. Continuous use can reduce saliva production leading to dry mouth conditions. A study highlights the effect of opioid addiction, causing oral fungus and viral infection. It concludes that opioid users develop a weak immune system making them vulnerable to diseases and infections. Some of the symptoms caused by opioid abuse are:
- Bruxism where users are likely to grind teeth, resulting in cracked teeth and weak jaw.
- Loss of pain sensitivity occurring due to cavities and gum disease
- Blood flow decline to oral tissues causing fragile tooth structure
- Ulcer and lesions due to reduced blood flow and saliva production
- Acid reflux increase causing tooth enamel erosion
It is important to note that opioid addiction can even occur after dental surgery. Therefore, the American Dental Association put forward opioid prescription guidelines to sensitize dentists regarding the addiction outbreak.
Along with other negative factors of addiction, it is equally important to pay attention to what it can do to oral health. Normal tooth decay or gum disease may seem ignorable, but the same can lead to severe conditions if left unaddressed. In your struggle to get rid of the addiction, maintain a healthy routine of brushing and flossing. Regular dental check-ups are mandatory to save your teeth from adverse conditions.
Guest post written by Jessica Smith. Jessica has been writing articles for e-business and elance sites for more than 4 years. Her educational background is Masters in English and journalism which gives her a broad platform to write on a variety of topics with ease and efficiency. She is an independent writer especially enjoys writing on fashion, lifestyle, health, and medical niche.
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