How Drug Addiction Impacts Oral Health

How does drug addiction impact oral health? It goes without saying that drug addiction is extremely detrimental to both physical and mental health.  The mouth and teeth are among the several parts of the body that can be irreparably damaged by drug use.  Read on to find out the latest information regarding how to prevent and minimize damage to the mouth caused by excessive drug use.

A National Epidemic

 According to the National Health Institute, about 10%, or one in ten adults in America have struggled with drug addiction at some point in their lives1.  Of those, only 25% ever receive treatment for their ailment.  This is due to a number of factors including the ongoing stigma around drug addiction.  Many people feel too ashamed to ask for help and continue to suffer in silence, allowing their health to deteriorate in the process.  Needless to say, the consequences are often dire, and sometimes fatal.  For our purposes, let us focus on oral health-related issues.


How Drugs Destroy Teeth

Both “hard” and “soft” drugs can cause serious damage to an individual’s teeth.  (soft drugs refer to low-risk drugs such as marijuana, while hard drugs refer to more deadly substances such as cocaine and heroin).

There is a common phenomenon amongst amphetamine users known as “meth mouth.”  This refers to the easily identifiable visible damage done to the teeth as a result of inhaling extremely hot smoke on a regular basis.  These high temperatures are extremely bad for the teeth and gums, and their effects compound over time.  As a result, teeth begin to rot, or even fall out.  It is one of the tell tale signs of drug addiction, and one of the costliest and most difficult to repair.


Even Casual Drug Use Can Be Dangerous

 Even soft drugs can be extremely dangerous from an oral healthcare point of view.  Smoking marijuana on a regular basis causes dry mouth, which creates an atmosphere where harmful bacteria can thrive.  And of course, tobacco use is responsible for over 90% of oral cancers2.  The overarching theme here is that every substance an individual ingests has its consequences.  The best solution, of course, is to abstain from drug use altogether.  But if that is not possible, individuals should do their best to get regular dental checkups and keep their mouths as healthy as possible.



U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2015, November 18). 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives. National Institutes of Health. From

2: Hill, A. (2022, April 16). Effects of drug addiction on Oral Health. NewMouth. From

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