Effects of Drugs and Alcohol in the Oral Cavity Essay

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From the beginning of time drugs and alcohol have been a part of society for both medicinal and recreational use. Although alcohol has been around since as early as 10,000 B.C. other harmful drugs such as methamphetamine have gained popularity in the past few decades. There are also prescription drugs that are as harmful and addictive as street drugs when taken continuously in large doses over time such as Dilantin. This report will discuss in depth the long term damage of drug and alcohol abuse in the oral cavity.

Methamphetamine is not a new drug, although it has become more powerful in recent years as the process for producing meth has evolved. It is reported that approximately 13 million people over the age of 12 have used
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Methamphetamine users sometimes experience soreness in the joint of the jaw due to Dental Attrition (tooth wear) and fracture due to teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism). Bruxism can occur continuously. Long term use of meth can also cause the inability to open the jaw (Trismus). Enamel erosion and other oral problems like dry mouth (xerostomia) will also cause deterioration of teeth. Abusers of meth will most likely experience constant xerostomia.

Treating meth mouth is not easy. It can also be medically dangerous for an active meth user due to cardiac problems that can occur during treatment when combined with local anesthetic and the drug. There are several ways in which a dentist treats the symptoms of meth mouth. To help fight against tooth decay (dental caries) dentist’s will often prescribe fluoride. This can be in the form of high fluoride toothpastes, rinses and/or tablets. Tooth restoration is necessary to rid the tooth of decay but in severe cases the dentist may need to extract a tooth that can not be saved by restoration. Xerostomia can be treated with drugs that increase saliva production in the oral cavity.

Dentists also offer education to patients about nutrition and dental hygiene. Images of diseased mouths are often shown in books, pamphlets, anti-drug campaigns and magazines to help users understand the impact of meth mouth. The effects of meth mouth are similar to those of Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder)

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