The world has many alcohol consumers and drug users. Substance abuse is a very common term for such acts and is practiced worldwide. When we hear such terms, we tend to think about how the lungs, liver, and other body parts of a human body are affected. What goes unnoticed is the effect of such habits on an individual’s oral health.
What is Oral Health?
Oral health refers to the aptness to smile, swallow, chew, taste, speak, touch, and project various reactions via facial expressions with assurance and deprived of embarrassment, discomfort, and illness. Oral health implies overall health. Hence, infections in the mouth are likely to lead to an unhealthy body. Therefore, it is mandatory to look after oral hygiene.
How Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Your Oral Health?
Moderate consumption of alcohol refers to a maximum of a drink a day for women, whereas two for men. It states that heavy drinking can mean eight drinks a week for women and fifteen for men. Although moderate consumption is considered as a part of a healthy lifestyle, alcohol affects oral health.
- Various alcoholic drinks like beer, white wine, and cider contain large amounts of acids. This results in the erosion of teeth’s enamel, leading to sensitivity and pain.
- Dental decay is caused by various alcopops and mixers that have high sugar content. These sugars react with a plaque to produce plaque acids that later cause dental decay.
- Other than these, spirits that are generally diluted with water for intakes, like whiskey and vodka, are likely to dry a person’s mouth. The decline in saliva’s production reduces the productivity of the mouth. This further leads to the deceleration of the process of maintaining the pH level.
Diseases Caused Due to Alcohol Consumption
- Sialadenosis: It refers to the swelling of salivary glands, specifically parotid glands. Excretion of salivary glands and metabolism is disturbed in alcohol drinkers.
- Gingival Disease: Gingival disease or gingivitis refers to gum inflammation. This is a result of the reduction in the secretion of saliva.
- Dental Caries: pH level below the critical level leads to the development of dental caries.
- Increase in BLLs: The consumption of alcohol increases Blood Lead Levels.
- Decayed teeth: Alcoholics are three times likely to lose permanent teeth as compared to non-alcoholics. This results in the decaying of teeth. Hence, either they have a missing tooth (removal of the tooth) or a restored (filing) tooth.
- Dental erosion: People addicted to alcohol tend to have dental erosion. This means that the degradation rate mechanisms increase.
- Oral cancer: Alcohol itself is sufficient to cause oral cancer due to its carcinogenic effects. However, when it is combined with tobacco, the risk increases.
- Stomatitis: It refers to the inflammation of the mouth and lips.
How Does Drug Use Affect Your Oral Health?
Drugs may have an adverse effect on the user’s gums, teeth, and mouth. These notably include the utilization of various illegal drugs like Cannabis, Heroin, Cocaine, and Ecstasy.
- The intake of fizzy drinks and food containing sugar due to cravings is likely to cause tooth decay.
- Drugs like Methamphetamine may lead to a dry mouth. This is because of the reduction in the production of saliva. This is when tooth decay and gum diseases begin.
- Other drugs, like Cocaine and Ecstasy, may result in tooth grinding and jaw-clenching, which further leads to cracked teeth, jaw pain, and headaches.
- Some people are likely to forget brushing once the drugs hit their minds. Due to this, tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum diseases may take place.
Diseases Caused Due to Drug Use
- Intake of high-sugar beverages or food in large amounts rots teeth
- Deficiency of certain nutrients are likely to cause damage to gums and teeth
- Lack of oral hygiene
- Infections in sores or ulcers of the mouth
- Blood does not flow properly to gums and roots
- Grinding teeth
- Acid reflux further causing rotting of enamel and hurting the soft tissue
Prevention of Diseases Caused by Substance Abuse
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is likely to help you prevent the above-mentioned diseases caused by drug use and consumption of alcohol. However, the best way to prevent them is to stop the utilization or consumption of such unhealthy substances.
Taking Care of Your Oral Health
Following are some ways suggested by dentists for looking after your oral health:-
- You must brush your teeth twice a day, once before sleeping at night and second, any other time in the day. The toothpaste must contain 1350-1500 ppm (parts per million) fluoride. In case your dentist feels you are at high risk of developing oral diseases, he/she is likely to prescribe you toothpaste high in fluoride contents.
- Never brush your teeth for an hour after your meals. You are likely to rub the acid on your enamel, causing dental erosion.
- Always clean in between your teeth using floss, interdental brushes, or tape. This reduces the risk of gum disease and decay by preventing debris or plaque to settle on the surface of your teeth.
- Eat lesser food and drinks containing sugars.
- The utilization of mouthwash can be beneficial, only if it does not contain large amounts of alcohol. Also, make sure you do not use mouthwash until an hour after brushing your teeth. This may wash away the fluoride on your teeth resulting in higher risks of tooth decay. Your mouthwash should not replace your regular brushing.
Oral diseases or diseases of the mouth are one of the most common NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) and are likely to affect people throughout their entire life. They can cause discomfort, pain, disfigurement, and even death. Since alcohol and drugs are major reasons causing such diseases, one must avoid their use. Poor hygiene and lack of fluoride on teeth will lead to poor oral health. We must take care of our oral hygiene in order to keep ourselves healthy and free of diseases.