Addiction to drugs, alcohol, and other substances is a very real disease that affects the lives of many. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014, 10.2 percent of Americans ages 12 and older reported some type of illicit substance abuse in the past month. Given the prevalence of addiction, it’s important to understand how addiction can impact oral health, and also how dentists can come alongside patients in substance abuse treatment to treat damaged teeth.
It’s important for recovering and former addicts to receive the right type of dental care in order to restore their mouth, teeth, and smile. After overcoming damaging addiction, you deserve to be proud of your healthy, beautiful smile!
Read on to learn more about how substance abuse impacts your oral health, and what your dentist can do to help you in addiction recovery.
Impact of Addiction on Oral Health
Unfortunately, many addicts spend a significant amount of time and money on alcohol, drugs, or other substances and fail to keep up with their dental hygiene habits. They might choose to not spend their money on dental visits or simply stop caring about brushing and flossing their teeth.
Dental professionals are trained to look out for certain symptoms and signs if they suspect drug abuse. These symptoms include distinctive patterns of tooth decay on the teeth and the look of malnourishment in the patient.
Here are the most common ways that addictive drugs can generally harm the mouth and teeth:
- Dry mouth, which increases acid in the mouth and leads to rotting enamel
- Acid reflux, which also rots enamel and hurts soft tissue
- Grinding teeth
- Loss of blood flow to roots and gums
- Ulcers or sores in the mouth that can become infected
- A focus on attaining more drugs instead of caring for oral hygiene
- Nutritional deficiencies that can damage teeth and gums
- Greater intake of high-sugar food or beverages, which rots teeth
It’s clear that addiction can harm oral health and put patients at risk for major health issues down the road.
How Dentists Can Help Recovering Addicts
At every dental exam, your dentist will go over your medical and dental history with you and perform a thorough examination and assessment of your dental health. If your dentist suspects substance abuse, they’ll do everything they can to not only treat the oral symptoms, but to also help support you in recovery.
If you haven’t already sought substance abuse treatment, your dentist will provide you with contact information for local rehabilitation centers and clinics. Your dental care provider will educate you about any risks associated with your drug use both on your overall health and your dental health. He or she may also suggest a range of preventative measures –– such as fluoride treatments –– to help protect the teeth from drug abuse as you work through recovery.
Depending on your medical history, your dentist may exercise extra caution if you need anesthesia, nitrous oxide, or sedation during a dental treatment.
Your past does not have to define you, and it’s never too late to start on the road to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact American Addiction Centers to get help.
A history of drug or alcohol abuse might dim your smile. If you have recently gone through a rehabilitation program and are looking for a fresh start with a healthy, beautiful smile, please contact your general dentist today. Your dentist can recommend restorative dental procedures and help you choose which options are right for you.
Our team of doctors is passionate about changing patients’ lives by restoring their smiles and relieving their pain. Contact us today to learn how Endodontic Specialists of Colorado can help restore your smile!