Written by Dr. Alice Vessel

We all know illicit drugs affect our brains from the ad campaign “this is your brain on drugs” showing an egg bubbling in a frying pan. But your mouth takes a “hit” too.

Let’s touch on just 3 of the culprits:  Heroin, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine.

Heroin works in the central nervous system’s reward center.  Users have an increased craving for sugar while also having dry mouth.  The increased consumption of sugar leads to extensive decay that is often ignored because of heroin’s pain killing effect.  Oral fungal infections and viral infections are seen in addicts along with a lack of homecare.  Discoloration of the tongue is often noted.  Finally, the drug used to relieve heroin cravings in recovering users, suboxone, is acidic and is delivered directly in the mouth under the tongue.

Cocaine also leads to dry mouth, and lack of dental care.  The cocaine addict may rub the drug onto the gums causing extensive erosion of the roots of the teeth.  Cocaine also causes grinding and clenching of the teeth resulting in many broken teeth.  Long term snorting of cocaine leads to perforation of the hard palate and erosion of the nasal septum.

Methamphetamine has its own recognized dental phenomenon.  “Meth mouth consists of severe decay along the fronts of the teeth that often appear black.  Methamphetamine is very acidic and causes softening of the bone holding the teeth in the jaw.  Methamphetamine causes massive grinding of the teeth resulting in broken or sheared off teeth and failed dental work.  Users tend to crave large amounts of sugary soda, adding insult to injury with decay…..DECAY… and more DECAY.

Keep both your brain and your mouth from being fried… say “NO” to drugs.

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