Heavy Drinking, Drug Abuse Present Complications for Dental Treatment

Chicago–Patients shouldn’t be offended if their dentist asks if they recently smoked pot, snorted cocaine or took a hit of ecstasy; if they have a history of drug abuse; or if they are a recovering alcoholic.

Honest answers to these questions provide crucial information that could affect the way dentists provide care, according to the newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry, AGD Impact.

“Drug abuse has many serious implications for dental care,” warns AGD spokesperson Eric Curtis, DDS.

For example, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy can have dangerous interactions with anesthetics commonly used in dentistry. Heavy drinkers could have liver problems that could make it dangerous to use acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain reliever. Another concern for dentists is the potential abuse of narcotic pain relievers, which a dentist may prescribe a patient following dental surgery.

Drug use ravages teeth.

Severe tooth decay (caries).

Gum disease.

Mouth sores and ulcers.

Stained teeth.

Broken and worn teeth from drug-induced grinding.

Patients should tell their dentist if: – they recently used street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or ecstasy. – they have a history of drug abuse or heavy drinking. – they are a recovering alcoholic or drug addict.