Opioid Addiction and Dental Health - Things You Need to Know

April 27, 2023

Opioid Addiction and Dental Health - Things You Need to Know
Opioid Addiction and Dental Health - Things You Need to Know

Opioid addiction has been a growing problem for decades, with devastating consequences for both physical and mental health. In fact, excessive use of opioids comes with a range of side effects, including nausea, constipation, and dry mouth. However, one area that is often overlooked when it comes to the impact of opioid addiction is dental health.


Opioids can heavily damage dental health, leading to various medical conditions. That’s why it’s important to learn how dental health is getting affected by opioid addiction. In this article, you’ll understand the connection between opioid addiction and dental health and get tips on maintaining oral hygiene.


What Are Opioids and How Do They Affect Dental Health?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine, as well as illegal drugs like heroin. When taken, opioids bind to receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body, producing feelings of euphoria. But the concerning fact is that opioids have several negative side effects, including constipation, nausea, and drowsiness. If you or someone you know has these symptoms, you can seek help from online Suboxone doctors for a suitable treatment.


Opioids can reduce the saliva produced by the salivary glands, leading to a dry, sticky feeling in the mouth. This can increase the risk of dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections.

How Can Opioid Addiction Impact Dental Health?

Opioid addiction can have a significant impact on dental health in several ways:


Neglecting Oral Hygiene

Most individuals who are struggling with opioid addiction often neglect their oral hygiene. It can be due to the physical and mental effects of the drugs or because they prioritize obtaining and using opioids over their dental health.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Opioid addiction can lead to poor nutrition, as people may prefer using opioids over eating a balanced diet. This can result in vitamin deficiencies impacting dental health, such as a lack of vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C.


Opioids can also cause a condition called bruxism, which is the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth. Bruxism can cause wear and tear on the teeth, jaw pain, and headaches.

Oral Infections

Opioid addiction can weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of oral infections such as thrush, a fungal mouth infection.


Increased Risk of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Opioid-induced dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. But, again, it’s because saliva is important in protecting teeth and gums from bacteria.


How Can Individuals With Opioid Addiction Protect Their Dental Health?

Since opioids severely damage oral health, people who are struggling with opioid addiction must take the necessary steps to protect their teeth, such as:


1. Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing twice daily and flossing daily can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, even during addiction. Fluoride toothpaste is important, as fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and protect against cavities. Unfortunately, most addicted patients find it extremely difficult to maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine because of their mental and physical conditions. But brushing and flossing regularly can go a long way in preventing various dental problems.


2. Staying Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can help people combat the dry mouth caused by opioids. It’s essential to note that the saliva in our mouths plays a vital role in protecting teeth and gums from bacteria. Less saliva causes a dry mouth and can increase the risk of tooth decay. So, we recommend drinking lots of water to keep the mouth hydrated and reduce oral infections.


3. Avoiding Sugary and Acidic Foods

Sugary and acidic foods might be tasty, but they can be the reason for severe tooth erosion. In fact, these foods are found to be harmful to teeth and gums when saliva production is reduced due to opioid-induced dry mouth. Avoiding food that contains too much sugar can reduce any dry mouth-related problems.


4. Eating a Balanced Diet

Even if food may not seem appetizing, sometimes it’s better to eat a balanced diet to get the necessary nutrients. A balanced diet should include lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.


5. Seeking Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Seeking help for addiction is the most important step to improving overall health, including dental health. Addiction treatment may include various methods like medication-assisted treatment (MAT), counseling, and support groups. With proper treatment, individuals can overcome addiction and improve their oral health.

Ways To Help Opioid-addicted Patients With Dental Health

An addicted individual can use several resources to recover from opioid addiction and maintain good oral health. These are:

Dental Clinics With Experience Treating Addicted Individuals

Dental clinics have experience treating patients with substance abuse disorders and can provide compassionate, non-judgmental care. In addition, these clinics understand that addiction is a complex disease that requires specialized treatment, and they have the expertise to provide the necessary care.


Addiction Treatment Programs for Dental Health

many treatment programs recognize that addressing dental health issues can be an important part of helping people recover from addiction. By incorporating dental care into their treatment plans, these programs can help patients address various dental problems. Some addiction treatment programs may offer dental screenings, cleanings, and even more extensive dental procedures like fillings or extractions.


Support Groups for Individuals With Addiction

Various support groups can also provide a community of individuals who understand the challenges of addiction. In addition, they can offer support and encouragement to those struggling to give up addiction and start a new life.



The impact of opioid addiction on dental health is often overlooked, but it can have serious consequences for overall well-being. However, by taking the steps mentioned above to protect dental health, individuals can reduce the risk of dental problems and improve their overall quality of life.



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