Dental Guides

The Effect Drug Abuse Has On Gums and Teeth

When you think of drugs and the effects they have on people, it’s most likely you’ll think about what they do to the brain, especially when it comes to street drugs and those that are considered illegal right across the world.

Then you’d perhaps consider the addictive element of them. Get hooked and it can be a long and traumatic path to drug rehab, where recovery can be a life or death situation. But going to rehab isn’t all about recovering from addiction, it’s also the opportunity to try and make a return to physical health given the long term damage drug addiction can cause on the body. And none more so than the teeth.

We often associate alcohol and smoking as bad for the gums and teeth, but it’s also the case with many drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and the likes of meth and ecstasy, and for a number of reasons too.

So, what exactly do drugs do to your teeth. Well, different drugs can cause different problems. However, you’ll typically find that as a whole they will lead to a drier mouth, generating less saliva, which is used to clean your teeth. Meanwhile, stimulants will lead to considerable grinding of the teeth which can weaken them and cause them to break.

Certain drugs will also cause different types of abuse to your gums and teeth too.

How drugs can damage your gums and teeth…


As cocaine is often taken in different ways, depending on how it is consumed it can have very different effects on your mouth. Snorting cocaine can cause significant damage on the tissue between your nose and roof of the mouth and cause a hole between the two following regular abuse, meaning it can be incredibly difficult, and painful to both eat and talk.

For those consuming it through their mouths, the acids within cocaine can damage the protective enamel on the teeth and not only lead to mouth sores, but also more serious issues like gum disease and tooth decay.


Aside from the significant damage heroin can cause on the rest of the body, it can also leave your mouth in a considerable state. It can leave your teeth in a real mess, making them rotten, discoloured and even cause them to fall out.

It will also cause gum disease and due to the fact heroin is a painkiller, it will effectively cause the body to ignore any pain and discomfort you have in your mouth, making matters only worse.


In the USA, around 18% of all Americans consume marijuana, and of those 30% abuse the substance. While many are looking to legalise the substance around the world, smoking marijuana can cause real problems, that can even be life threatening.

It has been proven that smoking marijuana can increase the chance of developing mouth cancer, while the drug itself can also lead to nausea and vomiting. This in turn will send the acids from the stomach through your mouth and begin to remove the enamel from your teeth, leading to tooth decay.

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