Healthy teeth and gums depend on good oral hygiene, a low-sugar diet, healthy saliva and regular visits to the dentist. Any drug dependence or drug use (legal or illegal) can impact on personal oral hygiene, diet and oral health. This can significantly increase the risk of dental (and many other) problems.
Dry mouth is a common side effect caused by many prescribed and over the counter medications. Find out more about the dry mouth here.
Some of the drugs that carry a high risk to your oral health include:
- Cannabis – also known as marijuana, pot and weed; can cause dry mouth and can lead to an increased risk of gum problems. Cannabis smoke can cause oral cancer.
- Cocaine – also known as coke or blow. Users sometimes rub cocaine over their gums, causing ulceration of gums and damage the underlying bone. Cocaine mixed with saliva creates an extremely acidic solution that erodes tooth enamel and exposes the underlying dentine to decay-causing bacteria. Dentine is much softer than the outer coating of the tooth (enamel) and can decay rapidly. Cocaine and crack cocaine cause dry mouth, which further increases the risk of tooth decay. Cocaine can cause tooth wear by tooth grinding (bruxism).
- Ecstasy – also known as love drug, MDMA or M. Side effects of ecstasy include tooth grinding, jaw clenching and dry mouth.
- Heroin – also known as H or smack. People who use heroin tend to crave sweet foods, which can increase the risk of tooth decay if oral hygiene is neglected. Heroin can also cause dry mouth and tooth grinding.
- Methamphetamine – also known as speed, ice or meth. This drug causes severe tooth decay in a very short time. Methamphetamine is highly acidic and attacks tooth enamel. Other side effects include dry mouth, teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Always tell your dentist about any drugs you take both prescribed and recreational. This will help them assess your risk of oral health problems and provide appropriate treatment.
You can find more information about getting help for drug addiction here.