One of the many ways that drug and alcohol addiction can take a toll on someone's overall health and well-being is through the deterioration of that person's smile and dental health. Sadly, dental health is commonly overlooked in substance abuse programs.
Substance abuse programs typically focus on intervention and, while they may provide support programs for long-term sobriety, they do not tend to provide services for oral health issues commonly faced by recovering addicts such as:
- Dry mouth
- Acid enamel erosion
- Tooth decay
- Tooth infection and abscess
- Gum disease
- chipped , cracked, or broken teeth
- Bruxism (tooth grinding)
All of these issues compromise the health and strength of the teeth and greatly increase risks for tooth loss. In fact, excessive alcohol use makes tooth loss three-times more likely. These risks are similar, if not higher, with almost all illegal and illicit drugs as well. Meth addiction for example, can have a profound impact on oral health. A study conducted at UCLA found that 96% of people who struggled with meth addicition had cavities and 38% already had six or more missing teeth.
Risks Posed by Missing Teeth
Missing teeth can have a profound impact on the health, strength, and structure of the mouth. Even one missing tooth can allow adjacent teeth to slip out of place, thus changing bite tension and strength, and increasing the risks for additional tooth loss. At the same time, when a tooth is missing, bone surrounding the socket will begin to deteriorate. Over time, this will cause the jaw to shrink and collapse, resulting in changes to the structure of the teeth and the shape of the entire face.
Dental implants are the only type of tooth replacement that can prevent changes to the structure of the jaw, making them the most complete tooth replacement option.
Tooth Replacement and Addiction Recovery
Replacing missing teeth plays an important role in recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism. Having missing teeth replaced with natural-looking and functionally strong restorations can:
- Restore speaking abilities
- Restore proper tension and bite strength
- Prevent adjacent tooth slippage and additional tooth loss
- Restore an attractive appearance to the smile
- Help to affirm an individual's self esteem and self confidence
When tooth replacement is completed with dental implants, structural changes to the jaw are addressed as well.
To be a candidate for tooth replacement, you only need to be missing teeth. To be a good candidate for dental implants, however, additional considerations will need to be made.
Because jaw collapse is inevitable following tooth loss, people who have been missing teeth for some time may not have sufficient jaw bone density to support an implant. Bone grafting is an option but, just like the surgical placement of implants, grafting may require sedation - something many recovering addicts avoid so as to prevent rekindling the addiction.
We provide a safe, and welcoming environment with many drug-free options to improve and protect your comfort. If you are a recovering addict, talk to Dr. Tenney today about our drug-free treatment options that can help restore your smile to its strongest and most attractive state.
We Are Here to Help
Call Desert Smiles at 602-978-1790 to learn more about our tooth replacement services for recovering addicts. We proudly serve men and women overcoming addiction in Glendale, Arizona, as well as the greater Phoenix, Scottsdale and Peoria communities.