How Drugs Affect Your Teeth
From liver failure to heart problems, drug abuse can destroy your entire body. But did you know it can also do a great deal of damage to your oral health?
Drug law attorney Philip Linder knows a thing or two about the effects of drug use. Some of the most common ways drugs can damage your gums and teeth are:
- Dry mouth, which increases acid and rots enamel
- Acid reflux, which rots enamel and hurts soft tissue
- Bruxism or grinding teeth, which causes jaw pain
- Mouth ulcers or sores that can become infected
- Nutritional deficiencies that damage teeth and gums
- Greater intake of high-sugar foods or drinks, which rots teeth
Below are drugs that are most often associated with damage to the teeth and oral health:
Methamphetamine or “meth” is one of the most damaging substances for your mouth. Its highly acidic nature viciously fights tooth enamel and induces tooth rot at an outstandingly fast rate.
Dry mouth is a common effect, promoting bacterial growth and can worsen decay. Meth also increases anxiety and stress, which can trigger people to grind their teeth and speed up erosion. In addition, this narcotic causes users to crave sugary foods and beverages, furthering damage to oral hygiene.
A 2015 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that:
- 96% of meth users had cavities
- 58% had untreated tooth decay
- 31% had six or more missing teeth
The consequences of meth use are so extreme that regular users can lose multiple, if not all, of their teeth due to what is often called meth mouth. This occurs when teeth are severely decayed and worn down to the gums or black with decay.
Ecstasy produces dry mouth and can last up to two days after use. The higher the dosage, the more severe the dry mouth. Dry mouth can lead to dehydration which can damage teeth, enamel, and other oral structures.
Ecstasy can also increase the risk of developing cavities, which is linked to gum disease. Another effect is bruxism, or teeth grinding and clenching of the jaw. This can wear down teeth and worsen jaw pain.
Many dentists, like Dr. Michael Carley, are able to restore any number of missing or damaged teeth and help patients achieve a healthy, long-lasting smile.
Depending on how the drug is taken, cocaine can cause a variety of damage. Rubbing it over your gums can activate mouth sores that can become easily infected. It can also generate severe gum and tooth damage.
When cocaine is mixed with saliva, it creates an acidic solution that dissolves enamel and destroys tooth restorations. The acids coat your teeth and breakdown their protective enamel, causing gum disease and tooth decay.
Regular users are prone to bruxism, which can stimulate jaw and muscle pain in the temporomandibular joint and cause dry mouth. Grinding can also cause teeth to crack and damage the surrounding gums.
Meanwhile, snorting can result in tissue damage between your nose and the root of your mouth. This can eventually cause a hole to form, making it hard to talk or eat.
Heroin users often crave sweet foods that can damage teeth and their roots, and increase the risk of tooth decay. It can also prompt dry mouth and oral infections that affect the mouth. Not to mention, the drug makes users more likely to grind their teeth, wearing down the enamel.
A study published in 2012 states that the characteristics of meth mouth are noticeable in heroin users as well. Similar to meth, this opioid causes rotten, discolored, broken, and missing teeth. Advanced technology allows dentists like Dr. Charles Bauer to provide attractive prosthetics as a tooth replacement for missing or damaged teeth.
Additionally, regular users are more likely to suffer from gum disease and discoloration of the tongue. Since it’s a pain killer, users experience sensitivity loss which could cause the person to ignore the pain from cavities, gum disease, or damaged teeth.
It may be used for recreation, but marijuana has damaging effects on teeth as well. Long-term use can block calcium from transferring through the body and lead to tooth decay.
Similar to smoking tobacco, marijuana can increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. According to a 2008 study, heavy users are 60% more likely to have gum disease than those who don’t smoke.
Marijuana is also linked to dry mouth, which can wear away enamel due to an imbalance of acids in your mouth. This can increase your risk of cavities and oral disease.
On top of this, regular smoking can evoke cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, resulting in nausea and vomiting. Acids from your stomach can wear away enamel and contribute to tooth decay.