Recovery Matters

The Dental Consequences of Addiction

The Dental Consequences of Addiction

I was driving on the highway, exhausted after a 3 day meth binge. The feeling was overwhelming and painful. I was grinding my teeth, I was close to falling asleep at the wheel (I think I even pulled over for a few minutes if I remember correctly) and then I heard that familiar sound. It was a crack, and an all too familiar feeling. I spat it out, dug around in my mouth and found it – one of my back teeth had broken in half. I ran my tongue along the jagged edge and just sighed. I knew it would be expensive to fix, and I most certainly did not have the funds to go to the dentist. My mouth was not my priority.

A few days later, while high, the sensation of my tongue against the jagged ends of what was once a tooth got the better of me. It was just too painful and irritating. So what did I do? I decided it a good idea to grab a nail file and file the tooth down to my gum. Genius.

I used to have magnificent teeth, sparkly and perfectly aligned. Now? Not so much. But in recovery I have the funds to fix my ‘meth mouth.’ I lost a few back teeth and now have implants and caps, the discolouration is being treated and I look less Breaking Bad and more Fixing Bad.

Meth Mouth

Severe damage can be seen in chronic meth use and it is violently rampant. This is what is known as ‘Meth Mouth.’ The dental problems that come with the drug are visible. While aesthetically horrible, you cannot forget the significant health problems that come with damaged teeth and gums.

Meth causes a dry mouth, gum disease, tooth decay, teeth grinding and overall neglect. The problem usually begins with bad breath and cavities. Then the pain begins – bleeding and swollen gums are not fun and not easily ignored. This can progress, completely obliterating the teeth.

Heroin and Gum Disease

We all know that heroin use causes severe health problems. But did you know that the teeth are also severely affected by the drug (and this does not only occur if the substance is smoked)? This damage occurs through neglect (addicts in active addiction don’t exactly care about brushing their teeth) and people who are addicted to opiates usually crave sweet foods. Up to 70% of users describe dental problems, from teeth snapping off to gum disease.

Alcohol and Tooth Decay

Alcohol most certainly contributes to tooth decay because most alcoholic beverages contain sugar – which of course weakens enamel. Binge drinking also leads to severe dental consequences, maybe even more so than chronic alcoholism. This is because consuming such a high level of alcohol in a short period of time causes vomiting – which in turn causes high levels of acid to build in the mouth.

Addiction: An All-Encompassing Disease

Drugs affect the mind, body and the spirit. Addiction is an all-encompassing disease – it attacks every part of you. Seek help now before your entire ‘being’ collapses – from your mouth to your heart to your life.

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