Addiction and Oral Health
Addiction is a serious issue. When you partake in illicit substances, you put yourself at risk for severe physical and mental harm. When most people think about the effects of these substances, they tend to focus on the effects on the lungs, the heart, and the brain. While these effects can be quite severe, drugs and alcohol can also have a significant impact on your teeth and your gums.
How Can Substances Affect Your Oral Health?
Alcohol and drugs can have several different severe effects on your oral health. These effects include such things as:
Alcohol and Tooth Decay
Alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of tooth decay. One reason for this is because alcohol contains a high amount of sugar, which provides food for oral bacteria. As the bacteria eat these sugars, they produce harmful acids that erode your enamel, causing this protective layer of your teeth to become weak. Over time, these weak spots become cavities, which only continue to grow in size, compromising the structural integrity of your teeth and putting them at risk for serious infections. Alcohol can also lead to a condition known as dry mouth. Dry mouth is when there is not enough saliva in the mouth. Your mouth may feel tacky. This type of environment is perfect for bacterial growth.
Additionally, those who drink heavily may also vomit. This can result in a high level of acid in the mouth that can also contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel.
Cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and other forms of tobacco products are a major risk factor for the development of oral cancer. This is also true of smoking marijuana. These products can also lead to dry mouth, increasing the risk of cavities, gum disease, and halitosis. When you smoke or use other tobacco products, it can also make treating gum disease more difficult.
Tobacco products also have a significant impact on the color of your teeth. These products contain chemicals that can cause significant discoloration, causing your teeth to look yellow or brown. These stains are often deep and very difficult to reverse.
Stimulants and Your Teeth
Stimulants, including amphetamines, ecstasy, and cocaine can lead to bruxism, a condition in which you grind and clench your teeth. When you grind and clench, you can cause excessive wear on tooth enamel, which can cause your teeth to become shorter. It can also increase your risk for cavities and tooth damage. Additionally, constant grinding and clenching can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder, which can cause severe pain in the joints and your jaw. This can make using your mouth difficult and painful and can also cause chronic headaches and earaches.
Methamphetamines can lead to a condition known as meth mouth. This term is used to describe the discoloration, rotting, and breaking of teeth, found in individuals who are addicted to this drug. Methamphetamines cause the salivary glands to stop producing saliva, which leads to extreme dry mouth. Additionally, methamphetamines are produced with highly toxic chemicals that can cause other significant issues. The key ingredients include lithium and sulfuric acid, which are extremely corrosive. When inhaled, they can lead to sores on your soft tissues and enamel decay of the teeth.
It is also possible for individuals to become addicted to prescription and over the counter medications. Aspirin and medications containing aspirin can cause tooth decay when too much taken, or if the medication is chewed rather than swallowed. Antihistamines can lead to dry mouth, as can oral contraceptives and cough syrups.
Addiction can have serious health effects as well as a significant impact on your oral health. If you are struggling with addiction, there is help. Call The Elmwood Dental Group LLC at (860) 331-8748 for more information.