Bellingham Dentist

Drug Use and Poor Oral Health

The Problem with Drug Use

A recently published review from a scientific journal revealed that tooth decay and periodontal disease are highly common in people who abuse substance, more so than the general population. On top of this, these people are the most less likely to consult and receive care from the dental practitioner. With increasing drug use in the US, to the tune of 3 million new users a year, this problem is not showing any sign of abating.

How does drug use affect the teeth and mouth? The effects are direct and easily noted, and perhaps the reason why drug users refuse dental attention – to avoid criticism or judgment. Drug use presents with dry mouth; there is less salivation with inhalation of fumes or powder forms. Meth Mouth is a term used to describe the discoloration, rotting and broken teeth in the mouth of a person who has an addiction to methamphetamine.

Users tend to snack more and prefer high sugar diets, like those who are addicted to heroin or other opiates, leading to increasing plaque formation, at the same time suffering from malnutrition. Stimulants like ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine are known to cause individuals to clench and grind their teeth when under the influence. There is also chemical erosion from applying cocaine to teeth and gums.

Those into substance abuse tend to have poor oral hygiene and lack regular dental care. On top of these, they poorly respond to painkillers and anesthetics, as well. Chronic tooth decay, cracked teeth, gingivitis or other forms of gum disease and other complications are often ignored by those who have an addiction.

Dentists should screen their patients for substance use, notice any advanced dental or periodontal disease and consider referral to medical doctors for management. In patients with suspected substance use disorders, dentists should be aware of issues concerning treatment and consent.

Dental Health for All in Bellingham

Your Bellingham dentists are truly your family dentists. If you have a love one or member who has dental issues due to drug use, try bringing the patient to us for attention and care. We don’t judge while accomplish our community mission. Simply dental health for all.