From “meth mouth” to a host of other problems, one of the most obvious effects of drug abuse is the damage it can do to oral health. Fortunately, treatment and support are always available to help beat addiction. And there are many ways to help avoid substance abuse and its effects altogether.
Common oral health problems caused by drug abuse.
Drug usage can often result in multiple, serious oral health issues. Here are some of the most frequent:
- Methamphetamine (meth) is highly acidic, can cause dry mouth and may trigger cravings for sweets. As a result, meth use often leads to severe tooth decay, gum disease and broken, stained and rotten teeth that can fall out.
- Heroin abuse can cause decayed and lost teeth, along with increased frequency of gum disease. This is often due to poor oral hygiene and malnutrition caused by lack of appetite. ,
- Cocaine is very acidic, so smoking crack-cocaine or putting powdered cocaine in the mouth can break down tooth enamel to cause decay and gum disease.
- Ecstasy can cause dry mouth, cavities and gum disease. Because ecstasy is a stimulant, users experience an increase in energy and activity. This leads to grinding and clenching of teeth, which often results in fracture or wear.
- Marijuana is no longer illegal in all states, but it can still have negative effects on oral health. Heavy marijuana smokers are three times more likely to have severe gum disease than those who don’t smoke marijuana. Smoking can also cause cavities and oral cancer.
Treatment and support are always available.
Overcoming addiction starts with making a commitment to change, setting goals and leaning on friends and family for support. Free, confidential help is provided 24/7 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Addressing stress in positive ways can be crucial to avoiding drug use. Experts recommend these natural mood lifters:
- Release endorphins with exercise.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Enjoy sunshine and fresh air.
- Practice meditation.
- Pamper yourself.
Try mixing positive stress busters and rewarding activities into your life to see what works best for you or your loved ones.