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Illegal Drugs and Your Teeth

How Illegal Drugs Affect Your Mouth

We know that illegal drugs are bad for us in many different ways; they negatively impact our health, our bodies, and our minds, especially over a period of time. How do these substances affect our teeth? In this blog post we explore common illegal drugs and how they ruin our oral health.

How Cocaine Affects Oral Health

One of the biggest oral health concerns in those that use cocaine, ecstasy, or any type of amphetamine is extreme bruxism. Grinding and clenching of the teeth when under the influence of the illegal drug often turns into a habit even when not using it, which can weaken and ultimately break teeth. Broken teeth are painful, and can cause even worse problems down the road. Those with teeth that have been fractured or broken need to have them extracted, and tooth replacement options can be quite costly.

Stimulants also cause dry mouth, which allows the acid in anything consumed to break down the protective enamel of teeth.

Methamphetamine and Oral Health

There is a common phrase, “meth mouth.” This describes the teeth and oral health of people who are users of methamphetamine because it is so obvious to spot. Those who use this illegal drug have extreme discoloration of their teeth, rotten and broken teeth, and extensive decay. Meth also causes a person’s glands to stop producing saliva, giving them excessive dry mouth. Another common issue with people who use meth is excessive grinding. Even when the drug is snorted, it goes back through the nasal passage and can coat a person’s teeth and gums that way, making it very detrimental to the user’s oral health.

Methamphetamine and especially Crystal Meth are extremely acidic. When it is smoked and/or inhaled, the drug breaks down tooth enamel very quickly.  After an extremely short period of time, the enamel breaks off in large “sheets”.  –Dr. John Busby

How Heroin Affects Oral Health

Chronic users of this illegal drug experience serious health problems, including bad gums and teeth. In fact, they often lose their teeth altogether. Many have teeth that snap off at the root or just simply fall apart. Extreme decay is also present in heroin users. It doesn’t help that the drug causes cravings for sweet foods and drinks.

Alcohol and Your Teeth

This may not be an illegal drug, but that does not mean it isn’t horrible for your oral health – and overall health!

It is widely known that constant drinkers experience faster tooth decay, mainly because many alcoholic beverages contain high amounts of sugar. This will weaken your teeth, and expose your body to bacteria that can cause other health issues. Alcoholics suffer from extreme gum and tooth problems, especially when the user ends up vomiting. Often, when this happens, a person is too drunk to brush their teeth after throwing up (they may pass out entirely), and all that stomach acid sits on their teeth, damaging the enamel and more.

Illegal Drug Use is Against the Law for a Reason

We are told from a young age to avoid drugs, because they are awful for us and our health, and that is one hundred percent true. Illegal drugs affect your health, your mind, your mood, everything from your fingernails to your mental well-being to your teeth.

If your teeth have been negatively affected by past illegal drug use, please be sure to see an experienced restorative dentist. Schedule a consultation with Affiliated Dentists today!

What About Prescription Drugs? Can They Affect Oral Health?

Prescription drugs are medications prescribed to treat or prevent a disease and are only available through a written request by your doctor.  Though prescription drugs are helpful in many ways, there are more than 600 medications that can cause a condition known as Dry Mouth. Because this condition is marked by reduced saliva flow, the millions of people taking these medications are at increased risk of cavities!

Why Saliva Is So Important

Dry mouth is something that doesn’t seem to be more than slightly annoying, but most people don’t realize that it can affect both your enjoyment of food and the health of your teeth.  Saliva is important because it’s what washes away food particles and limits bacterial growth.  It also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to swallow.

What Prescription Drugs Will Damage Your Teeth?

The list is ever changing and too long to post on our site, but among the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression and anxiety, antihistamines, decongestants, high blood pressure medications, antidiarrheals and muscle relaxants.

Do I Need to Stop Taking My Prescription if it Causes Tooth Damage?

If your doctor thinks a medication you are taking is the cause of your dry mouth, they may simply switch it to a different one or adjust your dosage.  There are also a few prescription drugs that can help, the most common being pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac), both of which stimulate saliva flow.

Here is a recent list of medications that may cause dry mouth.

If you’re experiencing dry mouth please contact our offices to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

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