Problems of the oral cavity can arise for an array of reasons, one of them being drug use.
Both medications and illegal drugs can cause tooth decay, discoloration, and many other dental problems.
These disorders at times can be long-term and irreversible. Thus, it is important to understand the potential side effects of any drug on your teeth.
Effects of Liquid Antibiotics on Dental Health
According to a study by CJ Tredwin et al published in the July 2005 edition of The Journal of Dental Research, use of liquid antibiotics is the cause of more than 80% of drug-related tooth discoloration cases in the Netherlands, amoxicillin being the cause of the majority of those cases.
Some other drugs responsible for tooth discoloration as reported by the Dutch Centre for Monitoring of Adverse Reaction to Drugs are:
The exact percentage of people taking amoxicillin and doxycycline that end up with temporary or permanent tooth discoloration is unknown, but researchers Berger, Mandel, Hayes, and Grimwood wrote in their 1989 report titled “Minocycline staining of the oral cavity” that 3-6% of monocycline users suffer from tooth discoloration.
Tetracycline’s Impact on Tooth Discoloration
Tetracycline has also been identified as a cause of tooth discoloration. A July 2010 sheet on Tetracycline and Pregnancy published by the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists states that pregnant women who are exposed to tetracycline during their third trimester of pregnancy are likely to give birth to babies with permanent tooth discoloration. It is best to discontinue the use of tetracycline during pregnancy.
It is also advisable that no child under the age of 10 be prescribed tetracycline. Children prescribed the drug while still in early development stages run a higher risk of having permanent tooth discoloration.
Antimicrobial agents and linezolid are known to cause less visible or perhaps only temporary tooth discoloration.
Flouride and Teeth Discoloration
Though fluoride is a necessary agent used to combat tooth decay and is found in many toothpastes, it can sometimes be harmful in excess. Over-exposure to fluoride which leads to tooth discoloration normally occurs due to excess brushing, but can also be caused by:
- Water (this will only occur in countries where water is fortified with fluoride such as the US, Canada and some western European countries)
- Prescribed drops
If a patient is exposed to excess fluoride, then he/she may suffer from:
- Small white flecks in the enamel, in case the discoloration is less severe.
- Darkly stained and pitted enamel, if tooth discoloration is more severe.
Effects of Anti-seizure Medicines on Dental Health
Anti-seizure medications are known to promote the growth of redundant gum tissues, a condition known as gingival hyperplasia. Gum tissue overgrowth is known to interfere with good oral hygiene practices.
Aspirin and Tooth Erosion
A number of studies show positive association between chewing aspirin and loss of tooth surface. Contact between aspirin and gums results in irritating the tissues and can also cause mouth ulcers.
Physical Damage to Tooth Structure caused by Drug Use
Various drugs can affect the physical structure of teeth in different ways. A few things to watch out for are:
Sugary Medicines – From an early age, you have probably been told to avoid sugary foods in order to have clean, healthy teeth. But has anyone ever warned you about sugary medicine?
Decreased Saliva – Some drugs reduce the production of saliva in the mouth, resulting in what is known as “dry mouth”.
This can cause tooth decay. Some of the drugs that can result in dry mouth include:
- Alpha receptor antagonists
- Muscarinic receptor antagonists
- HIV protease inhibitors
Illegal Drugs and Tooth Decay
Regular drug abuse results in tooth decay too. Here are some of the deleterious effects of substance abuse on oral health –
Cocaine and Tooth Decay
Habitual cocaine use is associated with the following:
- Palate perforation.
- Lesions on the gingiva.
- Bruxism or grinding teeth which leads to loss of tooth surface.
In fact, recent use of cocaine is also linked to increased likelihood of medical emergency during a dental treatment. A study by HS Brand and colleagues published in the April 2008 edition of The British Dental Journal suggests that a dental procedure should be delayed for 6 to 24 hours if the patient has taken cocaine.
Effect of Heroin Abuse on Dental Health
Heroin is known to induce a craving for sugary foods and beverages, the consumption of which provides the perfect setting for tooth decay.
For heroin abusers who reside in North Carolina, checking into North Carolina heroin treatment facilities is a necessary step to take if they want to save their teeth from decay.
Dental Caries and Methamphetamine Abuse
Cringed at pictures showing meth mouth (read advanced dental decay as a result of persistent methamphetamine abuse)? Meth abuse wreaks havoc on teeth in the following ways:
- Bruxism, which leads to erosion of the tooth enamel.
- The abuser has scant regard for oral hygiene during the time the high lasts (sometimes even for 12 hours) which triggers tooth decay.
- Dry mouth.
Tooth decay as a result of meth abuse is also attributable to the acidic constituents of the drug.
Effects of Ecstasy Abuse on Oral Health
The use of ecstasy or love drug results in prolonged tooth clenching and grinding (sometimes lasting for about 36 hours) and dry mouth. Thirst induced by ecstasy is often satiated by consuming sugary, fizzy drinks which compounds tooth decay and surface loss.
Whether prescribed or habitual it is best to discuss the side effects of any drug with a doctor. As far as narcotic abuse is concerned, we all are well aware of what these can do to us both physically and mentally. Staying away from them is the key!
About the author:
Dr. Deepika Garg – Dentist, Internet Enthusiast, Chief Editor of Dental Implants Costa Rica, which helps dental tourists find affordable dental work in Costa Rica Dental Clinics