If you use or abuse drugs and alcohol, you may be at higher risk for poor oral health than others. These harmful substances can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even bad breath. For example, studies have shown that people who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop periodontal disease—a form of gum disease that affects the tissue around the teeth and gums. This is because cigarette smoke contains high concentrations of nicotine that can damage oral tissues over time. In addition, cigarette smoking is known to cause bad breath due to its direct impact on the tongue's taste buds and saliva production (which helps neutralize odors).
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer, leading to gingival recession and tooth loss. Smoking also contributes to gum disease and bad breath. In addition, cigarette tar contains sulfuric acid that stains teeth a yellowish-brown color. Smoking also causes teeth discoloration by reducing their ability to absorb nutrients in saliva. This deficiency leads to enamel defects and thus makes them more susceptible to cavities or staining from food or beverages.
The chemicals in tobacco products can also irritate the gums and cause them to recede or pull away from your teeth even further over time - exposing more tooth surfaces than they usually would be exposed to (i.e., creating a larger cavity). This exposes sensitive nerve endings that can become painful after being protected for an extended period of time by healthy tissue covering them up. Additionally, this damage can become gum disease if left untreated for too long, which may require surgery.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. It comes from the cannabis plant and has psychoactive effects when consumed. Marijuana can cause dry mouth, gum disease, tooth decay (cavities), tooth erosion, and bad breath. The chemicals in marijuana may also cause tooth sensitivity to cold or sweets. In addition to these issues, regular use of marijuana may lead to permanent damage to a person's oral health.
Dry mouth is caused by a reduction of saliva production due to the effects of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) found in marijuana on salivary glands near your cheeks and gums. Saliva helps protect your teeth from decay by washing away food particles from surfaces where bacteria can grow. A dry mouth increases your risk of developing cavities since fewer natural barriers prevent bacterial growth on your teeth.
Cocaine and crack cocaine are stimulants that can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke. Cocaine use can lead to tooth decay because the user has an increased appetite due to the drug's effects on neurotransmitters. In addition, crack cocaine users tend to grind their teeth because it's smoked—a process that can wear down enamel and make teeth more susceptible to decay.
Cocaine users may experience sores inside their mouths from excessive dryness caused by the drug's effect on saliva production - this is especially common among people who inhale (snort) cocaine.
Alcohol can cause a dry mouth, leading to bad breath and tooth decay. It also weakens the immune system and makes you more susceptible to infections like gum disease, oral cancer, and mouth sores. To make matters worse, it can irritate your gums if you have an existing condition such as gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease). This is because alcohol numbs your gums while at the same time dehydrating them, which puts you more at risk of losing teeth.
Some prescription medications, such as anti-depressants, can cause dry mouth and lead to tooth decay and gum disease. If you are taking a medication that causes dry mouth, try sucking on sugarless candy or chewing gum to increase the flow of saliva in your mouth. You should also schedule regular dental visits with your dentist so they can do everything they can to prevent cavities and periodontal disease caused by dry mouth.
Drug and alcohol abuse can affect your mouth in several ways:
Understanding how drugs and alcohol affect your oral health is essential because they can be detrimental to your teeth and gums. The more you know about the effects of these substances on your mouth, the better equipped you are to take action if necessary. In addition, quitting drugs and alcohol benefits your overall health, lifestyle, and wellbeing. Learn how you can get started on the road to recovery at Passages, where we provide you with the tools to create a life you can feel proud of.