When many people think about addiction, dental health is not the first thing that comes to mind. After all, if drugs are injected or snorted, this doesn’t have anything to do with teeth or the mouth in general. Even pills pass through the mouth very quickly. However, these substances can still have an influence on dental health because of how they affect the body.
For one, people struggling with addiction may neglect their dental health in general. While under the influence, they may forget to regularly brush their teeth or floss. Over time, this can lead to plaque buildup, cavities, gum disease, and other issues. And scheduling annual checkups likely isn’t top of mind either. Other issues can arise as well:
- Certain drugs or alcohol can contribute to dry mouth. When there isn’t enough moisture in the mouth, this can affect teeth and gums.
- “Meth Mouth” is common in those who take methamphetamines. These drugs slow the production of saliva, which can lead to dry mouth. As a result, acid from food and beverages break down tooth enamel and can cause decay, discoloration, or broken teeth.
- One side effect of stimulants can be grinding of the teeth. This can wear down the teeth and lead to cracking, loose teeth, jaw pain, headaches, and other issues.
- Some alcohols are high in sugar, and this can cause tooth decay if teeth are not brushed frequently enough.
- Drug use can contribute to nutritional deficiencies which impact the teeth, gums, and oral health in general. Drugs can keep the body from absorbing or processing nutrients as well as it should.
- Some people increase their use of drugs or alcohol to cope with mouth pain, which can make problems worse.
Another issue is that individuals struggling with addiction do not always have the healthiest diet. Drugs and alcohol can lead to cravings for sugary foods and drinks, and these foods tend to be less expensive than healthier options. Once again, excess sugar can contribute to tooth decay, especially when paired with poor dental hygiene.
Maintaining Better Oral Health
It is important for clients in recovery to pay attention to their oral health and schedule regular checkups with their dentist. Making sure teeth and gums are healthy is one part of improving overall health and well-being. Clients can work with their dentist to address problems caused by prolonged substance use.
Improving dental health can also help to boost confidence and self-esteem. Some people are embarrassed by how their teeth look, and damaged or missing teeth can make eating more difficult. By getting these problems straightened out, it is another aspect of their life they can feel more positive about.
Being proactive and seeing the dentist regularly can also help to alert clients if substance use is becoming problematic. The dentist may notice changes to oral health common with addiction and be able to help clients seek the addiction treatment they need while also caring for their dental health.
Crossroads provides comprehensive treatment for addiction and supports clients in improving health throughout all aspects of their life. Once substance use is under control, clients can focus on maintaining sobriety while also caring for their physical and mental health – oral health included. This is one more component of turning their lives around for the better and building a healthier future.
[cta]Focus on improving your overall health by seeking treatment for addiction at Crossroads before problems become more serious.[/cta]