Did you know that people with substance use disorders are less likely to seek regular dental care, despite having higher rates of tooth decay and periodontal disease than the general population? Going to the dentist is likely the last thing on your mind while you’re in active addiction. But now that you’re in recovery, caring for your oral health is an important part of self-care. Proper dental hygiene will make you look and feel good and it will also prevent conditions like heart disease or diabetes that can be caused by the chronic inflammation and bacteria in the blood that accompany bad teeth.
Alcohol, pot, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, methamphetamine and tobacco have all been found to wreak havoc on your oral health. Here are a few ways drugs and alcohol abuse can affect your teeth and gums.
- Dry mouth (a reduction of saliva, which reduces bacteria in the mouth, neutralizes decay-causing acid in the mouth and helps repair tooth enamel).
- Increased urge for snacking and cravings for sugary foods.
- Chemical erosion (for instance, from applying cocaine to teeth and gums).
- Poor oral hygiene.
- “Meth mouth,” caused when highly acidic methamphetamine attacks tooth enamel.
Good Habits for Good Dental Hygiene
Taking regular care of your teeth and gums can help prevent many dental problems. Do your best to make the following part of your oral care:
- Brush twice a day – in the morning and before bedtime.
- Floss or use “interdental” brushes to clean between the teeth at least once a day.
- Scale back on sugary foods and drinks.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups, every six months.
Stopping the Side Effects of Addiction
Early intervention is the best way to combat the physical and emotional damage caused by a substance use disorder. Don’t wait. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, BRC Recovery can equip you with the life skills and spiritual practices need to recreate and reclaim your life. To learn about our proven programs and recovery services, call today: 866-461-1759.