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8 Drugs that Destroy Dental Health

8 Drugs That Destroy Dental Health Resurgence Behavioral Health

8 Types of Drugs That Affect Dental Health

  1. Alcohol: Even though alcohol is legal, it can be addictive to some. Made from fermented sugars and added sugar after the fermentation process, it can lead to a faster buildup of plaque. Acidic in nature, it can also lead to tooth decay. Alcohol can also cause digestive problems such as acid reflux which wears away teeth.
  2. Tobacco: Using tobacco products can cause oral or throat cancers. It can also cause dry mouth and lead to gum disease, bad breath, and teeth damage.
  3. Marijuana: Smoking anything can cause mouth or throat cancer, including marijuana. It is also known to cause dry mouth, or cottonmouth, which damages enamel.
  4. Prescription and OTC drugs: Many types of OTC drugs can cause tooth decay and damage when taken long term. These include aspirin, antihistamines, prescription asthma medications, oral contraceptives, immunosuppressants, and medicated cough syrups. Syrups will also rot tooth enamel due to their high concentrations of sugar.
  5. Opioids and opiates: Heroin can cause sugar cravings, leading to damaged teeth and their roots if consumed frequently. Even though they are not stimulants, they can cause teeth grinding which leads to tooth cracks and jaw damage. Injecting opioids can increase the risk of developing fungal or viral infections of the mouth. Because they reduce pain, many users will not be aware of the pain associated with gum disease or cavities, which can progress into irreversible damage. There is also the chance that dental surgery can lead to opioid addiction when they are prescribed opioid painkillers. Even though they are milder opioids, they can still trigger addiction in some.
  6. Amphetamine: These stimulant drugs are often called “club-drugs”, which include ecstasy and MDMA and can cause users to grind their teeth, leading to tooth cracks and jaw problems. These drugs also cause dry mouth and dehydration, which damages enamel and other mouth structures.
  7. Cocaine: A potent stimulant, it is acidic and causes different types of damage depending on how it is taken. If it comes in contact with teeth, it can damage the enamel and when rubbed into the gums can cause sores which can become infected. Also, when snorted it can cause damage to the sinuses and the upper palate, which can lead to a hole between the nose and mouth. This is another drug that causes teeth grinding. Crack cocaine is smoked and anything you smoke causes teeth and gum damage.
  8. Meth: Meth mouth is poor dental health associated with meth use and the drug quickly rots teeth. One of the reasons is that meth causes blood vessels to shrivel and die, creating many gum problems. It is another drug that causes dry mouth, which causes many oral health issues. Because it is a stimulant, it causes teeth grinding and those with a meth addiction tend to crave sugary foods and drinks. Students at the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted a study that found that 96% of people who struggled with meth addiction had cavities, 58% had tooth decay, and 31% had six or more missing teeth.

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drugs that ruin dental health

It is well known that heavy drug and alcohol use can wreak havoc on a person’s health, but many people are not aware of the effects of substances on oral health. Studies have shown that individuals with substance use problems have worse oral health than others, which can include tooth decay and gum disease.

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to a wide range of health issues, including damage to the lungs, heart, brain, and stomach, but there is also a risk for some drugs to cause teeth and gum damage. One of the reasons for this is that people with addiction spend a large portion of their time intoxicated on drugs or trying to get more drugs, which means they often neglect their hygiene, including their oral hygiene. Some also cannot afford a dentist or may just not care about taking care of their teeth and gums.

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Many drugs can affect the mouth, including both illegal and prescription drugs. Some of the effects they can have on oral health are:

  • Dry Mouth: many drugs can cause a person’s mouth to produce enough saliva. Regular dry mouth can cause difficulty chewing, swallowing, or even talking. Having dry mouth also increases the risk for fungal infection and tooth decay because saliva is what keeps harmful germs in check.
  • Clenching Teeth and Jaw Pain: Stimulants, such as ecstasy, methamphetamine, and cocaine can cause a person to clench and grind their teeth. Over time, this can cause chipped, loose, and worn teeth, as well as pain in the jaw muscles and joint.
  • Tooth Decay: some drugs increase the urge for sugary snacks and drinks. If a person is constantly eating these throughout the day, they can develop cavities.
  • Erosion of Tooth Enamel: one of the causes of erosion of tooth enamel, is when people rub cocaine on their gums. Saliva and cocaine mixed together is acidic, which can erode the protective outer layer of the tooth (enamel). It can also cause gum sores.
  • Increase Acid Reflux and Vomiting: acidity from the stomach can rise through acid reflux or vomiting. When this becomes frequent, it can rot teeth and also erode tooth enamel.
  • Loss of Blood Flow to Roots and Gums: which can kill the roots of the tooth and cause widespread tooth loss.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: when people are constantly intoxicated, they fail to feed themselves properly causing nutritional deficiencies. Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies can cause brittle bones, which includes teeth.
drugs that destroy your dental health

The Impact of Drug Use on Dental Health: Why Some Drugs Make Teeth Turn Black

Understanding the Dental Effects of Certain Drugs

One of the less discussed but significant impacts of drug use is on dental health, particularly the phenomenon of teeth turning black. This issue is not only cosmetic but also indicative of deeper dental damage.

Drugs can significantly impact dental health, leading to issues such as dry mouth, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Some substances can cause bruxism (teeth grinding), contributing to tooth wear and damage. Methamphetamine, known as “meth mouth,” can cause severe dental decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Cocaine use can erode tooth enamel and damage the gums. Overall, substance abuse can lead to neglect of oral hygiene, exacerbating dental problems and leading to significant oral health issues.

Drugs Known to Cause Blackening of Teeth

  1. Methamphetamine (Meth): Often referred to as ‘meth mouth,’ the use of methamphetamine can lead to severe dental decay and gum disease. Meth dries out the mouth, reduces saliva production, and often leads to teeth grinding. This combination can cause teeth to turn black and decay rapidly.

  2. Crack Cocaine: The use of crack cocaine can lead to similar issues as methamphetamine. It reduces saliva production, which is essential for neutralizing acids in the mouth. Prolonged use can lead to enamel erosion, cavities, and eventually, teeth turning black.

  3. Heroin: Heroin itself doesn’t directly cause teeth to blacken, but its use often leads to neglect of oral hygiene. Additionally, it causes dry mouth and cravings for sugary foods, both of which contribute to tooth decay and discoloration.

Why Do These Drugs Affect Teeth?

  • Acidity: Many drugs are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel, leading to decay and discoloration.
  • Dry Mouth: Saliva is crucial for maintaining oral health. It neutralizes acids and washes away food particles. Drugs that cause dry mouth leave teeth more vulnerable to decay.
  • Neglect of Oral Hygiene: Substance abuse often leads to neglect of personal hygiene, including oral care. Lack of regular brushing and flossing accelerates dental problems.

Prevention and Treatment

  • Professional Dental Care: Regular dental check-ups are crucial. Dentists can offer treatments and advice to mitigate drug-related dental damage.
  • Oral Hygiene: Maintaining oral hygiene is vital. Brushing twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash can help prevent decay.
  • Seek Help for Addiction: Addressing the root cause, which is drug addiction, is essential. Seeking help from addiction treatment professionals can prevent further dental and health problems.

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Symptoms Of Destroyed Dental Health

Poor oral hygiene can cause many health problems, from cavities and tooth sensitivity to advanced gum disease. Periodontitis (infection of the gums) and other gum or tooth disease can also lead to other health complications such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, respiratory infections, and kidney disease. These are all caused by the bacteria that grow in the mouth uncontrollably and travel to other parts of the body.

Symptoms related to drug-induced dental health issues can include increased sensitivity, especially to hot or cold temperatures, due to enamel erosion or gum recession. Chronic bad breath, changes in the color or texture of the gums, and loose or shifting teeth are also common indicators. In advanced cases, individuals may experience significant pain, abscesses, and infections, which can lead to more severe health complications if left untreated. Regular dental check-ups and maintaining good oral hygiene are crucial for managing and preventing these symptoms.

8 drugs that destroy dental health

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of gum disease so if they develop, you can see a dentist and hopefully prevent any other health issues like those mentioned above. Some of the symptoms to look for are:

Gum, mouth, and jaw pain: these can be signs of stress, including cold sores. It is well known that stress contributes to many physical and mental disorders.

Loose or lost teeth: this is a sign of advanced gum disease and also a sign of osteoporosis.

Bleeding gums: bleeding or sore gums are a sign of gum disease. This can also be an indication of something more serious, such as diabetes. Diabetes can reduce the body’s ability to fight bacteria.

Sores, lumps, or patches in the mouth: these can be something benign like a canker sore. But they can also be a sign of something more serious like oral fungal infection or oral cancer. Oral cancer occurs most often in smokers and those who use other forms of tobacco, or alcohol.

Changes in the enamel (tooth surfaces): damaged enamel is usually caused by acidic substances, including drugs, alcohol, dry mouth, acid reflux, and vomiting. Enamel loss can cause teeth sensitivity.

Bad Breath (Halitosis): bad breath can come from dry mouth, gum disease, and gingivitis. Untreated gum disease can lead to sinus infections, gastrointestinal problems, chronic lung infections, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease.

Public health advertisements have made it almost common knowledge that meth abuse damages teeth. But there are many other substances that can damage teeth and gums. Even with proper oral hygiene, many of these substances cause some sort of damage to oral health. The most common drugs associated with jaw, teeth, gum, and oral hygiene damage are:

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Gum and teeth diseases caused by drugs and alcohol are often overlooked. Oral diseases can be very serious and the longer they go untreated, the worse the damage is and the harder it is to treat any issues. Teeth damage and loss can cause eating difficulty, even after drug use has stopped, and damage a person’s self-esteem. Gum disease can lead to an array of many health issues including cardiovascular disease and dementia. Saving your teeth and oral health is just another reason to get help for drug or alcohol addiction today.

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we offer multiple levels of care including detox, inpatient, and outpatient care for every type of drug or alcohol addiction. We tailor every treatment to each client in order to give them the best chance for long-term sobriety. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and are looking for drug rehab, please give us a call today. One of our addiction specialists can help you get started with recovery today.

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