More than one in four Americans have untreated tooth decay, while almost half live with gum disease. Drug and alcohol addiction can take a heavy toll on your teeth and lead to serious health issues. Having damaged or missing teeth can impact your self-esteem and ability to eat and talk comfortably. Achieving good dental health in addiction recovery has many aadvantages.

Impact Of Addiction On Dental Health

Nearly 3.5 billion people worldwide are affected by oral disease. For those struggling with addiction, good nutrition and oral hygiene are often not a priority. Factor in the many physical impacts of addiction, and you are left with a recipe for poor dental health. Alcohol can cause a dry mouth by decreasing saliva production. A dry mouth reduces your mouth’s ability to keep itself clean and makes your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Vomiting from using substances can also damage tooth enamel. Alcohol can even interfere with tissue cell division and increase the risk of oral cancers. Certain drugs can also cause a craving for sugar, leading to tooth decay, jaw clenching, and tooth grinding.

Dental Treatments After Recovery

Some people decide to have reconstructive dental surgery following recovery, such as dentures, fillings, dental implants, or veneers. If you have lost teeth due to substance abuse, there is the option of dentures. However, dental implant surgery offers a permanent solution. If you aren’t missing any teeth, but your teeth are heavily discolored, damaged, or broken, your dentist may recommend veneers. Porcelain veneers are fixed to the teeth for a whiter, straighter appearance. However, just like natural teeth, veneers can still stain or even break. To keep them looking their best, you will need to commit to a good daily oral hygiene routine so your veneers will last as long as possible.

Improving Your Dental Health

Regardless of how severe the tooth decay and gum disease, it is possible to regain control of your oral health once you’ve recovered from addiction. A good place to start is with a good oral hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and regular flossing will help prevent any debris or plaque build-up reducing the risk of problems. Changing your diet, drinking more water, increasing your calcium intake, and regular dental check-ups are also important. If you have problems with grinding your teeth, you may need to wear a nightguard to prevent further damage to your teeth.

Professional Dental Cleaning

While a good dental hygiene routine is crucial to good oral health, a professional dental clean and polish will remove all plaque and reduce gum inflammation. If the gums have become infected due to a tartar infection, your dentist can perform a much deeper type of cleaning called root planing or periodontal scaling. This will clean the roots and the area beneath the gum line. Once all the plaque is removed, the gums will adhere healthily to the teeth, keep them stable, and prevent future bone and tooth loss.

Substance addiction has many consequences. However, the impact on dental health is one consequence often overlooked during recovery.  A good cleaning routine at home, regular visits to the dentist for a professional clean and check-up, and exploring the restorative and cosmetic options available will set you on the road to good oral health and give you back your smile.


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