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Study links poor dental health with substance abuse

Study links poor dental health with substance abuse

30 June | 0 Comments | By Rachael

Substance use disorders (SUDs) is a growing concern in the United States contributing to significant impairment in an individual’s physical and mental health. The recurrent use of substances including alcohol or illicit drugs, or both, is associated with serious health problems including cognitive decline, behavioral problems, drop in work or school performance, impaired relationships, disability and death. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 8.1 percent (amounting to 21.7 million people) Americans aged 12 or older qualified for substance use treatment in the past year.

Studies have reported the comorbid existence of SUDs and physical illness. Although there is limited research in this direction, few studies have provided evidence of high rates of dry mouth (xerostomia), lifestyle effects, such as lack of access to care and poverty in people suffering from SUDs. A recent review published in the scientific journal Addiction on March 16, 2017, revealed a possible relationship between dental problems like tooth decay and periodontal disease and incidence of SUDs.

Reasons for deteriorating oral health

The study reported that compared to the general population, patients with SUDs have an increased likelihood of having poor oral health. At the same time, there are lesser chances of them visiting a dentist for treatment. Considering the fact that number of drug users has increased manifold in the last decade, the magnitude of associated dental problems is also set to witness a significant rise.

The adverse effects of drug use on oral hygiene can be attributed to factors, including administration of the drug from oral routes, an increased craving for snacking after drug use, chemical erosion caused due to rubbing of cocaine on teeth and gums, and clenching and grinding of teeth. In addition, lifestyle changes, such as ingestion of high sugar diets, lack of regular dental screening, poor oral hygiene and malnutrition can also contribute to oral problems. The tolerance to painkillers and anesthetics due to repeated substance abuse may also affect treatment outcome in people with SUDs.

The researchers also highlighted the adverse consequences of ill oral health on the quality of life and general health. Characteristic oral health issues like bad teeth, bacteremia (bacteria in the blood) and chronic inflammation may not only increase the risk of serious conditions including stroke, diabetes, coronary heart disease and respiratory diseases.

Recommendations to improve oral health in people battling substance abuse

The researchers recommend some simple steps to both dentists and doctors to improve oral health of people with SUDs. First, dentists should look for possible signs of substance abuse in patients who visit them for screening. In case, they notice an advanced dental or periodontal disease, particularly related to substance abuse, they should consider referring patients to rapid detox centers in Texas as patients might need a detox to clear the body of the drug and prepare it for treatment.

Health care professionals should also be watchful if they have the consent of patients with suspected SUDs regarding the treatment. It is also important to consider the possibility of patient’s resistance to painkillers. Doctors and clinicians should also educate patients with suspected substance use disorders about the importance of proper dental care, oral health risks related to dry mouth and using sugar-free preparations while taking medications like methadone. This may help prevent early decay of teeth and loss of confidence.

If you know anybody who is battling substance abuse, contact the Detox Facilities Texas for instant help. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-671-4308 or contact our mental health counselor over an online chat session.