How Are Drugs Affecting Your Teeth?

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Drugs, whether legal or illegal, can negatively affect your teeth. In fact, it's estimated that approximately 40 percent of the population takes at least one drug that can cause dental damage. If you take prescription medications or use illicit drugs, the following guide will help you better understand the dental risks and consequences you may face after long-term use of a particular type of drug.

Stimulant Drugs

Stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine, can cause serious dental damage due to clenching and grinding of the teeth. Plus, these drugs often cause chronic dry mouth, prompting users to quench their thirst with alcoholic beverages, sugary sodas and other sweetened drinks that compromise your dental health. Stimulant use can lead to a variety of serious tooth and gum issues, including:

  • Ground-down teeth
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Loosened or missing teeth
  • Tooth decay
  • Worn enamel
  • Broken fillings
  • Misaligned teeth

Habitually clenching or grinding your teeth may eventually lead to root canal therapy due to damaged tooth roots. Plus, you may end up needing costly dental implants down the road if your habits cause tooth loss.


The term "meth mouth" refers to the severe dental damage caused by regular use of methamphetamines. This drug can wreak havoc inside your mouth, leaving you with decayed, broken and discolored teeth.

Why are methamphetamines so bad for your dental health?

  • Meth contains highly toxic chemicals known to cause mouth sores and rot the teeth.
  • Meth can cause you to chronically grind and clench your teeth.
  • Meth causes extreme dry mouth, allowing acids (from foods and drinks) to sit on your teeth and eat away at the enamel.
  • Meth addicts often neglect to follow a routine for healthy dental hygiene.

Whether you smoke the drug or snort it, the consequences are the same. The chemicals in methamphetamines coat your teeth and gums, causing significant damage to your dental health.


Long-term use of opiates, like heroin or morphine, can cause all sorts of dental problems because these drugs often induce cravings for sweet foods and drinks while under the influence. Plus, maintaining a good oral health routine is usually not a priority if you live a life of opiate addiction. Frequently consuming sweets, without taking proper care of your teeth, can result in gum disease, broken teeth and cavities.

Prescription Drugs

The list of prescription drugs that can damage your dental health is practically endless. However, several commonly prescribed medications known to negatively affect the user's teeth and gums include:

  • Tetracycline: This prescription antibiotic is particularly dangerous to the dental health of young children because it is known to cause discoloration and damage to developing teeth.
  • Cancer Treatment Drugs: While taking chemotherapy drugs, some patients experience adverse side effects like dry mouth, mouth sores, tooth decay and inflammation of the tongue and lining of the mouth.
  • Asthma Inhalers: Asthma medications that contain corticosteroids can cause dry mouth, as well as increased tooth decay, halitosis and soreness of the gums.
  • Oral Contraceptives and HRT Drugs: The hormones in these types of medications can cause gum inflammation and decreased resistance to bacterial plaque.
  • Anti-Seizure Medications: Medications prescribed for epilepsy and other seizure disorders can cause soreness and enlargement of the patient's gums, as well as bone loss in the jaw.  

Although you may have no choice but to take a prescription medication that can cause adverse dental side effects, there are ways to prevent or minimize damage to your teeth. By practicing good oral hygiene habits and visiting your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, most serious prescription-related dental problems can be avoided.

Be sure to keep your dentist informed of any drugs you take on a regular basis. Also, if any prescriptions you take are causing negative dental side effects, have a peek at this site or let your doctor know. This way, you two can discuss alternative medications, if possible.