What Are Heroin Teeth?
When a person uses heroin, they may develop “heroin teeth,” which may be characterized by cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Drug addiction has many physical side effects. The side effects of heroin include oral health problems.
Heroin, an illegal opioid drug, can cause something called “heroin teeth” after repeated use. This may look like gum disease, stained teeth, and other impacts on oral health.
These effects may be the direct result of heroin abuse or drug use in general.
What Do Heroin Teeth Look Like?
Heroin teeth look similar to “meth mouth.” Because substance abuse can lead to oral hygiene problems, somebody who uses heroin may have several dental health issues.
Some of the ways to identify heroin teeth include:
- tooth decay
- missing teeth
- gum disease
- mouth sores
- tooth enamel damage
- stained teeth
How Heroin Causes Tooth Damage
Oral health is an important aspect of personal health care. When someone has a heroin addiction, however, they may neglect their oral health for a number of reasons.
Heroin in particular causes clouded thinking, which can make basic dental care especially difficult.
Heroin And Sugar
Someone with a heroin addiction may consume more sugar than others for two reasons: first, heroin use has been linked to sugar cravings; second, heroin is sometimes cut with sugar and other food additives.
The excess sugar combined with a lack of oral healthcare can create cavities and tooth decay. Without proper dental hygiene, these issues may worsen over time.
Is Heroin Acidic?
Heroin may sometimes contain acids. By adding an acidic substance to heroin, a person can make heroin dissolvable.
Acid can cause damage to the tooth enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to cavities, decay, and disease.
Heroin And Dry Mouth
One of the most common physical side effects of heroin is dry mouth. In fact, heroin can start causing dry mouth within minutes of use.
Dry mouth may seem like a mild side effect, but it can also cause dental problems.
Saliva helps keep teeth clean. Without enough saliva, cavity-causing foods remain in the mouth longer.
Heroin’s Pain-Numbing Properties
Heroin works a lot like prescription opioid drugs. When it attaches to the opioid receptors, it doesn’t just cause euphoria, it also relieves pain.
While pain relief seems like a positive, physical pain serves a purpose: it signals that something is wrong with the body.
When someone has tooth pain, for example, they might go to the dentist for a filling.
But because heroin numbs pain, a person who uses heroin may not realize when they have a cavity or another dental issue. As a result, the problem may worsen as more time passes.
Heroin And Teeth Grinding
Drug abuse often causes bruxism, or teeth grinding. Stimulants like methamphetamine are the most likely to cause this problem.
However, heroin can also cause bruxism. When a person grinds their teeth, they can damage their enamel.
How Heroin Causes Gum Damage
Heroin addiction can also cause periodontal disease, or gum disease. Gums are soft tissues, and heroin use has been linked to soft tissue damage.
Furthermore, when heroin contains acidic additives, the acid can cause mouth sores. These mouth sores can become infected, leading to further oral health issues.
Find Addiction Treatment At Spring Hill Recovery Center
If you or your loved one are ready to overcome a drug use disorder, heroin addiction treatment is available.
Spring Hill Recovery Center offers several treatment options and health services. Contact one of our health professionals today to learn more about how to start the road to recovery.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- Centers For Disease Control And Prevention — Heroin https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/heroin.html
- Journal Of The American Dental Association — Dental Disease Prevalence Among Methamphetamine And Heroin Users In An Urban Setting https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177%2814%2961835-3/fulltext
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — Drug Use And Your Mouth https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/drug-use-and-your-mouth#topic-2
- National Library Of Medicine — Acute Infections In Intravenous Drug Users https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4953807/
- National Library Of Medicine — Effect Of Long-Term Addiction To Heroin On Oral Tissues https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/236385/
- National Library Of Medicine — The Relationship Between Opioid And Sugar Intake https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3109725/