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The Link Between Drug Use and Poor Dental Health

The Link Between Drug Use and Poor Dental Health

Dental patients with substance use disorders may be more likely to experience tooth decay and periodontal disease than the general population, and less likely to receive proper care. With drug use increasing to millions of people each year, this is a problem that may only get worse with time. Find out why there is a link between drug use and poor dental health.

Drugs and Dentition

Drug use affects oral health physiologically including dry mouth, an increased desire to snack, clenching of teeth, and chemical erosion from applying cocaine or other drugs to teeth and gums. Addiction and drug use also affect health due to poor diets including:

  • High sugar foods
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Lack of professional care (access or desire to seek it out)

Oral health has significant consequences on quality of life and overall health. Chronic inflammation and bacteria in the blood can increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory disease.

Improving Health, Saving Lives

Some of the more simple steps can help alleviate some of the oral hygiene issues people face when using drugs or drinking alcohol. Dentists who screen patients for substance use or notice any ongoing dental issues incompatible with age may be able to pick up on the signs and offer assistance. Dentists should be aware of issues concerning treatment and consent when the person they are treating is intoxicated and be alert to painkiller resistance. Some other considerations may include:

  • Arrange for necessary dental care
  • Consider using sugar-free preparations when prescribing methadone
  • Warn people about oral health risks associated with dry mouth and cravings for sweet foods

Dental health can impact overall health. Addiction and drug use can ruin a person’s health but also their teeth. It is something that is not discussed much, but is beginning to be noticed by the dental community as a standard of care. Taking care of your teeth may take a back seat to addiction but in recovery, it is time to address the situation and begin to fix your teeth so you can stay healthy in the future.

Oral health is a little known issue for people with addiction. We will help guide you in recovery as well as provide resources to help you make informed decisions about how to get dental care, along with other needs met. Your health and recovery are our first priority. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401