What’s the Deal with Drugs and Bad Teeth?

By Dirk Hanson 04/18/11

It’s not just “meth mouth”—alcohol and pot can also damage your dental health.

Not a pretty sight.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

We’ve all heard about “meth mouth,” that disgusting outcome produced by bad diet, teeth grinding, dry mouth and general nutritional deficiencies. But methamphetamine isn’t the only drug that will wipe that smile right off your face. Opioids in particular scored high for dental nastiness, but alcohol and marijuana abusers also have dental health problems. Did you know that heavy alcohol consumption is a risk factor for gum disease? Or that smoking tobacco or weed may contribute to problems with gingivitis? A team of Boston University public health officials and dental professionals reported last week that a majority of people with “substance dependence problems” have poor oral health, according to Science Daily. The study found no significant association between the type of drug and the extent of dental difficulties. All drugs of abuse deplete the body of nutrients essential to the growth of teeth and tooth enamel. And active addicts often eat poorly or not at all. So smile if you can, but if not, don't be a dopehead—see your dentist.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]