By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
Drug and alcohol abuse have been on the rise in the last few years, and those numbers increased even more during the pandemic. Numbers from the CDC suggest that more than 10% of Americans over the age of 12 have abused illegal drugs in the last month. In addition, 24% of American adults had at least one episode of heavy drinking in the last year.
Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse can cause numerous dental health problems, including:
- Mouth cancer
- Loss of tooth enamel
- Tooth decay
- Dry mouth
- Chipped, cracked, or jagged teeth
- Grinding of the teeth
- Gum disease
Enamel Breakdown and Mouth Sores from Drug and Alcohol Abuse
One of the most common impacts of drug abuse on dental health is enamel breakdown. Because cocaine and many other drugs are highly acidic, they can break down the enamel on teeth. Cocaine is especially damaging when it is smoked or when people use powdered cocaine in their mouths to be absorbed through their gums. This can lead to mouth sores, which can get infected.
Cocaine can also cause injuries in the mouth when it is snorted. The tissues in the upper palate are weakened, which can cause a hole to form between the nose and the mouth.
Essentially all alcoholic beverages are acidic, with some having a higher pH level than others. Wine is especially acidic and seeing tooth erosion in wine drinkers is very common. So many mixed drinks also contain mixers like juices and sodas, all of which have high levels of acidity and can cause damage to tooth enamel.
Another negative dental health consequence from drug abuse is called transient chorea. This causes muscle spasms in the jaw and mouth, which can make people grind their teeth. When people grind their teeth too much, it weakens the tooth enamel and causes the teeth to crack.
Drug Abuse Can Make Teeth Rot
Tooth rot is so common from meth use that the condition is known as “meth mouth.” Black and brown holes form all over the teeth due to decay. Meth kills blood vessels, which causes problems in the gums. Meth also makes the mouth feel dry. And without saliva, the enamel on the teeth is much more subject to the harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Bad Dental Hygiene from Drug and Alcohol Abuse
When people abuse drugs and alcohol, their dental health suffers. The drugs and alcohol themselves are hard on people’s teeth. However, another side effect of the abuse is neglecting basic dental hygiene.
When people use drugs and alcohol, they often forget to take care of their basic dental needs – such as brushing, flossing, and using mouth wash. Finally, some drugs, such as meth, make people crave sugary foods and drinks, which are hard on your teeth. This combination makes it hard to keep your mouth healthy.
A No-Judgment Appointment to Discuss the Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse on Your Dental Health
If you’re concerned about the impact drugs or alcohol are having on your oral health, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for a no-judgement appointment. Call our office at 651-482-8412 to schedule your appointment.