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Crack & Tooth Decay | Effects Of Crack On Oral Health

Published on February 11, 2021
Crack & Tooth Decay | Effects Of Crack On Oral Health

Crack is a smokable form of powder cocaine that is processed into a rock crystal. The crystal rock is heated and its vapors are inhaled through a pipe. Crack is often abused in binges to maintain a high, resulting in frequent and heavy use. 

Frequent drug use can result in severe health issues, including your dental health. 

Dental issues associated with crack cocaine include tooth decay, cavities, and mouth sores. Although some tooth damage may be permanent, seeking proper health care and treatment can prevent further damage. 

Effects Of Crack On Oral Health

Crack is a powerful stimulant abused for its pleasurable side-effects, including increased energy, euphoria, and alertness. However, crack can also cause dry mouth and teeth grinding, which can weaken teeth. 

Frequent substance abuse may lead to tooth decay, similar to “meth mouth” (tooth decay caused by methamphetamines). 

Heavy use of crack cocaine can cause severe dental issues, including:

Tooth Decay

Saliva helps to neutralize acids in the mouth and maintain the health of your teeth. Cocaine is acidic and causes dry mouth, which can cause rotted enamel, periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay. Tooth decay can lead to cavities, painful infections, and tooth loss. 

Bruxism & Movement Disorders

Frequent stimulant use can cause bruxism, which causes chronic teeth grinding and clenching. Bruxism can cause headaches, jaw pain, and tooth fractures. Teeth grinding can chip away at the enamel, which can cause tooth pain and increased sensitivity. 

Transient chorea and buccolingual dyskinesia are two common movement disorders associated with cocaine use. These disorders can result in strange mouth movements and a distorted smile.   

Burns & Sores

Smoking crack cocaine causes a higher risk of burns and sores inside and around the mouth. Open sores around the mouth can lead to dangerous infections and increases the risk of spreading human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 

Nutrition & Oral Hygiene

Crack cocaine commonly reduces appetite and binges can lead to limited food intake. However, many people who use cocaine consume foods and drinks high in sugar.

Crack cocaine binging can lead to poor hygiene and neglected health care. Foods high in sugar increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay. 

Vasoconstriction & Drug Interactions

Cocaine causes vasoconstriction, which is the tightening of blood vessels and reduced blood flow. Vasoconstriction can also cause high blood pressure, which is particularly dangerous when crack is used with other vasoconstrictors. 

Another common vasoconstrictor is epinephrine, which is in local anesthetics commonly used in dental procedures. If cocaine is active in your system when you administer another vasoconstrictor, it can potentially cause a heart attack or cardiac arrest. 

How Can You Prevent Tooth Decay?

Some of the tooth decay caused by crack cocaine abuse may be permanent. Cosmetic dentistry may be able to repair severely damaged or missing teeth. However, some of the damage can be reversed, if treated in time. 

You can prevent further damage to your teeth and gums by seeking treatment for cocaine addiction. 

Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Crack cocaine is highly addictive and can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. Along with tooth decay, crack can impact your quality of life and cause numerous health issues. 

It can be difficult to stop using crack on your own but professional treatment can help guide you in early recovery. 

Although your treatment plan will be tailored to your needs, it may include:

Detox

Detox can help you safely cope with crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms. You will have access to healthcare professionals around-the-clock. If necessary, you may be provided medications to treat withdrawal symptoms. 

Inpatient Treatment

Residential treatment programs provide a highly structured atmosphere and access to addiction specialists. You will likely be offered individual counseling, group therapy, and behavioral therapy. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs allow you to commute to a specified number of treatment sessions each week. These programs are more effective for mild addictions or people with a solid foundation in recovery. 

If you or a loved one would like more information about addiction treatment, please contact Ark Behavioral Health to speak with a specialist. 

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

National Institute On Drug Abuse - What Are The Short-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use?
National Library Of Medicine - Oral Health of Drug Abusers: A Review of Health Effects and Care
Official Journal Of The British Dental Association - Cocaine And Oral Health
PubMed - Association Between Crack Cocaine Use And Reduced Salivary Flow

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