Many major cities have been in the news for the substance abuse and overdose problems. Accidental overdoses are now on the top of the list for causing fatalities in people aged 50 and under. Drug-related overdoses have escalated to epidemic proportions. As a result, the United States leads all other world countries in drug fatalities.
Methamphetamines continue being one of the main drugs of choice in the class of opioids that people abuse. Many become addicted. The long-term effects of using the substances include the break down of oral tissues, which is commonly referred to as meth mouth. Once opioid users are on the road to recovery, the devastating physical effects of the drug act as a painful reminder each time the former addict looks in the mirror. While trying to fight cravings, the individuals suffer from poor self-confidence.
Ravages of Opioid Use
When an individual uses opioid or meth over an extended period of time, teeth develop stains and then begin to decay. Within a single year of continual substance abuse, the teeth become brittle and crack or break. The gum line loosens, which enables teeth to fall out.
The oral effects occur secondary to the acidic character of the drug, which reduces the action of the salivary glands that normally help to cleanse the mouth. As the mouth dries, the acid deteriorates the teeth. In addition, addicts often consume sweet beverages that compound the problem. It is not unusual for users to experience high levels of anxiety while under the influence of the drug or when trying to get more of the substance. The anxiety and stress often cause them to grind their already fragile teeth.
Hope for Addicts
The addiction causes the substance abuser to focus on getting their next fix rather than taking care of their health. Thus, oral hygiene and care go by the wayside. However, dentists have developed a program at the “Saving People’s Smile” clinic in Concord, New Hampshire. The staff believes they can enhance an addict’s recovery process and provide a sense of hope by offering dental care. The care needed ranges from simple fillings to extractions and tooth replacement. Although the oral trauma caused by opioid abuse is often severe, the dentists are devoted to making the necessary cosmetic corrections to bolster the self-esteem of recovering clients.