The Affect Prescription Drug Abuse Has on Your Teeth

Prescription drugs are intended for distribution by medical professionals only and for patients with a legitimate prescription. Unfortunately, prescription pills are often abused. Many teens and young adults come in contact with prescription drugs via their parents' medicine cabinet. Others are offered prescription pills by older friends and acquaintances at a party. Several prescription pill users buy the drugs online through a rogue pharmacy. Regardless of the way in which the drugs are acquired, they pose many risks to the abuser.

When the media posts issues relating to prescription drug abuse, the effects on the brain, liver, and psyche are emphasized. Very rarely does the general public hear about the dental dangers associated with prescription drug abuse. Herein lies the truth: prescription drugs pose a number of threats to the user's dental health. For prescription drug addicts, the dangers are increased tenfold. Consistent abuse of the drugs leaves abusers and addicts susceptible to long- term tooth decay and dental damage. The inability to stop using drugs without undergoing proper treatment often leaves users feeling guilty and shameful about the state of their oral hygiene, particularly during bouts of sobriety - and clarity.

Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants such as benzodiazepines are accompanied by a host of physical risks, particularly in the case of dependency. Abruptly stopping the ingestion of regular benzodiazepine use can result in seizures, coma or death. In terms of drugs from the family called opioids, risks involve interactions with other drugs such as antihistamines, respiratory failure, coma, and death. We hear of stories such as Heath Ledger's tragic death resulting from a lethal combination of prescription pills. We know that his heart stopped and he stopped breathing. Again, we hear nothing of the dental dangers of abusing prescription drugs. The truth is, prescription drug abuse contributes to a host of dental risks that can be just as debilitating as the more commonly- known factors.

For example, many users under the influence of prescription drugs " whether they be CNS depressants or stimulants " stop maintaining priorities that used to be of importance to them. One of these priorities includes dental hygiene. While high, users care very little about the state of their physical health. Although methamphetamine is notorious for leading to "meth mouth" " distinctive tooth decay and discoloration from meth use " other drugs lead to dental disaster as well.

Almost all prescription drugs are accompanied with warnings from physicians and pill bottles indicating that the drugs may cause dry mouth. If a prescription pill abuser does not stay dehydrated and consume adequate quantities of water, he or she risks build-up of dental bacteria and plaque. When individuals are addicted to drugs, their main focus becomes acquiring the drug and using it as much as possible -- compulsively and despite negative consequences. In light of the shift in priorities, oral hygiene takes a backseat to the drugs.

As a result, many chronic drug users end up with teeth that are:

  • Blackened
  • Stained brown or yellow
  • Rotting teeth
  • Crumbling teeth
  • Eroded enamel
  • Plaque build-up
  • Calcification along the gum line
  • Corrosive substances that diminish enamel and strength of the teeth
  • Cracks in the teeth
  • A large number of cavities

If your loved one suffers from a drug addiction, it can be painful to watch their cheery disposition and physical strength seemingly dissipate into thin air. Activities and employment are no longer important to them. They are riddled with anxiety, depression, agitation and restlessness. You notice that the signs of prescription drug abuse is written across their mouth. If they are not willing to seek treatment and recover from prescription drug addiction, consider bringing them to the dentist. At the very least, they can receive fillings for any outstanding cavities and receive medical recommendations on how to proceed. Sometimes it takes the word of a licensed professional to enlighten the addict with a snapshot of reality. People are born with one set of teeth, and that's it " no second chances.

With residential rehabilitation treatment, individuals can recover from drug addiction in a safe, drug-free environment. They can begin reintegrating themselves into society as a sober and clean citizen. The despair, distress, and desperation that accompanies addiction will be replaced with hope, spirituality, and tools in which to deal with life's stressors. If inpatient rehabilitation is not logistically or feasibly possible, consider an outpatient drug rehabilitation program. Prescription drug addicts can interact with other addicts in a confidential, group forum. It often takes the initial detoxification period and several weeks of emotional healing before the dental damage can be reversed or repaired.

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