Whether prescription or illicit, certain drugs can have a profound impact on your teeth and overall oral health. Some of them have an indirect effect on your mouth, causing certain side effects that eventually lead to teeth problems. Other drugs – particularly those that fall into the illegal realm – can have a much more direct effect.
Different drugs can have different side effects on your gums and teeth. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Mouth sores
- Swelling or inflammation
- Dry mouth
- Tooth decay
Detrimental Effects of Drugs on Teeth
Different drugs may harm your teeth in different ways. The following are some of the risks associated with specific drugs.
- Heroin – This is a serious drug that has an indirect impact on your teeth. This is because it causes an increase in craving for sugary foods and drinks, which leads to more tooth decay. It can also cause dry mouth and lead to tooth grinding.
- Ecstasy – This actually includes a number of “club drugs.” They can cause jaw clenching, severe tooth decay, and dry mouth.
- Methamphetamines – Meth can cause serious tooth decay in a very short time. The word “meth mouth” was coined to describe the results caused by this drug. The high acidity of the drug causes serious erosion of the enamel, and can also contribute to dry mouth and other symptoms.
- Cocaine – This drug often causes teeth grinding and clenching, but when users rub it over their gums, it can lead to ulceration of the gums and the bones underneath it. When it mixes with saliva, it also creates an acidic solution that can decay your teeth.
- Marijuana – Studies have shown that marijuana users are 7 times more likely to develop gum disease than those who don’t use it. Its effects appear to be very similar to the effects of tobacco smoke.
And speaking of tobacco, it’s important to remember that substances that many people use every day, like tobacco and alcohol, can also have an impact on your oral health. Tobacco increases the risk of gum problems, including cancer, while alcohol can cause dry mouth and increase tooth decay.
Immediate, Temporary, and Permanent Effects
Many of these drugs have only temporary effects on your teeth, and with effective treatments, they can be corrected. Dry mouth, for example, is a common side effect of prescription and illegal drugs, and while it can lead to other, serious problems, it is generally a temporary situation that we can address.
On the other hand, things like crystal meth can turn your teeth black and cause significant decay – to the point that the teeth can just fall apart.
What Can You Do About It
If you are currently using prescription medication, it’s important that you let us know about it. We can adapt the treatment to make sure you are getting the best care for your oral health. In fact, some medications may dictate which treatments we can even offer.
Dental work is also a critical part of getting a fresh start after addiction recovery. It’s possible to erase many of the signs of drug use and restore your smile. Whether it’s through a simple teeth-whitening procedure or replacing missing teeth with implants, we can help you find a reason to smile again.