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How Does Drug Abuse Affect Your Teeth and Oral Health?

Addiction affects a large number of Americans each year. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 10% of Americans suffered from substance abuse at some point in their lives.[1] Additionally, the CDC reports that 23.4% of Americans engaged in heavy drinking for at least one day in the past year.[2]

While most people imagine drugs and alcohol causing issues related to the lungs, stomach, heart, or brain, many types of drugs cause significant damage to the teeth and mouth. Because people who are addicted to substances spend a lot of time obtaining and using drugs, they may neglect their oral hygiene because they can’t afford it or stop caring about their oral health. 

If you abuse drugs, it is important to be aware of the effects that drug and alcohol abuse can have on your teeth and oral health. 

How Can Drug Abuse Affect Your Teeth and Oral Health?

When you are addicted to drugs, it can be difficult to keep up with your oral hygiene routine. The mental hold that substances has over you will cause the use of drugs to become your top priority, causing things like brushing and flossing your teeth to seem less important. This can lead you to experience an array of issues related to your oral health. 

There are several ways that each drug can damage oral health. The most common ways that substance abuse affects your teeth and oral health include:[3]

  • Dry mouth
  • Increased acid in your mouth 
  • Rotting enamel 
  • Acid reflux 
  • Damaged soft tissue
  • Grinding of your teeth 
  • Loss of blood flow to roots and gums 
  • Ulcers or sores that can become infected 
  • A decline in oral hygiene techniques 
  • Nutritional deficiencies that lead to damage to teeth and gums 
  • Increased intake of sugary food or beverages, causing rotted teeth 

In summary, abusing drugs and alcohol can lead to an array of issues related to your teeth and gums. Keeping this in mind, each type of drug can cause different oral hygiene effects. 

Drugs that Affect Your Oral Health 

While everyone is aware of the effects that methamphetamine has on teeth, you may not be informed about the issues that other drugs can cause related to your oral health. 


Cocaine can cause significant damage to the mouth, depending on how the drug is taken. 

This drug is very acidic, so if it comes in contact with your teeth it can begin to break down your enamel. This is why many people who smoke crack cocaine have rotted teeth. Additionally, rubbing powdered cocaine on the teeth and gums can lead to a loss of enamel and mouth sores that can become infected. 

Snorting powdered cocaine can lead to damage to your upper palate, which can eventually cause a hole to form between the nose and mouth. Additionally, this drug makes you grind your teeth, leading to cracked teeth, damage to the enamel, and jaw damage. 


Methamphetamine is notorious for causing teeth and mouth ailments. This drug is known to affect your oral health, causing the term to be coined known as “meth mouth” because of how quickly teeth can become rotten. 

This occurs because meth causes blood vessels to shrivel and die, leading to gum damage. Additionally, meth dries the mouth out and leads to a decrease in saliva, causing other acids in the mouth to eat away at your enamel. 


Amphetamines like ecstasy, molly, and other derivatives of these club drugs cause you to grind your teeth. This can lead to cracked teeth and worn-away enamel. Additionally, grinding your teeth can lead to damage to the jaw. 

Lastly, these substances are known to cause dry mouth and lead to dehydration, which can damage your teeth, enamel, and structures of your mouth. 


Alcohol is often mixed in with other drinks that contain large amounts of sugar. Additionally, the substance itself is created by fermented sugars. Drinking this amount of sugar frequently can lead to a faster buildup of plaque. Also, alcohol is acidic, and the combination of sugar and acid can quickly lead to tooth decay. 

The coloring of alcohol can stain teeth, leading to yellow and brown-colored teeth. Lastly, alcohol is known to cause acid reflux which can cause stomach acids to be present in the mouth, leading to a faster decay of teeth. 


Opioids like heroin are known to cause you to crave sugary foods and drinks, which can lead to damaged and rotten teeth. While opioids are not stimulant drugs, they can cause you to grind your teeth, leading to cracked teeth and jaw damage. 

Additionally, if you inject heroin or other opioids you put yourself at a higher risk of developing infections. These infections can lead to oral fungus or viral infections that affect the mouth. 

Lastly, opioids and opiates reduce pain. This can cause you to be unaware of the fact that your teeth have cavities or that you are experiencing gum disease. As a result, your conditions may worsen, causing rotting teeth and severe forms of gum disease. 


Smoking cigarettes or pipes with tobacco can cause oral or throat cancer. Chewing tobacco also puts you at risk of developing these cancers. Additionally, most forms of tobacco are known to cause dry mouth, which can lead to halitosis, periodontal gum disease, and damage. 

Finding Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction 

If you or a loved one suffer from drug addiction or alcoholism, it’s time to receive help. The effects of these conditions are far-reaching, often leading to financial distress, social isolation, mental health problems, and health issues such as poor oral hygiene. Attending a professional addiction treatment program can prevent you from experiencing the consequences of substance use disorder.

Contact Mandala Healing Center today to get connected with a top-rated addiction treatment program.