Just Say No: Drugs Can Affect Your Oral Health

Halloween CandyYou already know that many drugs can have a negative effect on your overall health. From heart problems to various types of cancer, substances such as marijuana and methamphetamine can cause a number of health issues. But the problems don’t stop there – even your mouth can be impacted by drug use. In honor of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in October, here are three drugs that harm your smile.

Also known as “meth” or “crystal meth,” this drug can cause severe dry mouth – which promotes bacteria growth that leads to cavities and gum disease. It’s also highly acidic, causing tooth enamel to erode. People who use meth tend to be lacking in dental hygiene overall, and typically consume large amounts of sugar and soda due to cravings. They may also grind their teeth. The combination of all of these factors results in severe tooth decay. It is so common in meth users that experts coined the term “meth mouth” to describe the poor dental condition of someone who has been using meth long enough to damage their teeth.1

Researchers believe that smoking marijuana can lead to gum disease in ways that are similar to smoking tobacco.2 In fact, heavy users are up to seven times more likely to have gum disease than those who don’t smoke marijuana.

Although tobacco is legal, it can do a lot of harm. Whether you’re smoking or chewing it, tobacco damages gums and affects the bones and soft tissues in your mouth where they attach to the teeth. Smoking reduces the flow of saliva, which allows bacteria to flourish. And, smokers are more likely to have receding gums, which expose tooth roots and make teeth more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages. Tobacco use also drastically increases the risk for oral cancer.3

If you have an addiction or know someone who does, talk with a doctor to find an appropriate treatment program. And, discuss any dental issues you experience with your dentist so they can help you keep your mouth as healthy as possible.



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