There's another thread on this subject - Heroin and Teeth
. I'll merge them when I get a minute.
The question of heroin
and teeth seems to come up a lot. Why do many junkies have bad teeth? Is it a result of the heroin itself, or the lifestyle associated with heroin addiction? The OP suggested it was to do with the actual act of smoking heroin, that the heroin smoke affects the teeth directly. My good friend doesn't think this is the case, as many IV heroin addicts (for whom the heroin does not come into direct contact with the teeth) end up with bad teeth.
Lifestyle factors cannot be ignored, people who are addicted to heroin are less likely to brush their teeth, floss, and go to the dentist. However, my good friend, throughout her heroin and methadone
addiction has always made an effort to take care of her teeth. But they're starting to look kinda crap. She only smoked gear for about 18 months, from when she was 16, there after she injected the stuff. Her teeth are kinda stained and are a bit fucked up at the front. She broke her two front teeth a few years ago, and had caps put on them, and now the tooth around the cap is starting to flake and crumble away. It doesn't look too awful, but it's a bit of a piss off for someone who always tried to look after her teeth. It's probably a result of her heroin use, and her previous crack
smoking, combined with the methadone, and all the other factors listed here. No one thing to blame, but she's pretty sure they wouldn't be in such a state if she had never started using drugs
. Years of heroin addiction doesn't go by without leaving a mark on your body, that's for sure.
There are a few other factors to take into account: Anyone who was prescribed methadone before they switched to the sugar-free stuff (or is still for some reason being scripted the non-sugar free stuff) will definitely have not done their teeth any good with that sickly-sweet, sugar filled linctus. It's so sticky, it coats your teeth in sugar. And when you're rattling and gulping down a load of meth
, brushing your teeth and risking the gag reflex bringing the whole lot back up again is not something you're gonna want to do.
Also, heroin addiction increases ones desire for sweet foods. I cannot give a reason for this, but I am sure it is true. From my own dear associate's experience, and that of the countless other junkies she has met over the years, she can safely say that heroin addicts like sugar. If anyone has any suggestions for the cause of this, I would be very interested to hear them.
Additionally, heroin addiction messes your saliva production up. As does heroin withdrawal. When you're clucking do you ever feel like you've got way too much saliva? And when you first start using heroin did your mouth feel really dry? This reduced saliva production whilst on smack is related to the reduced noradrenaline production, and so the increased saliva production whilst in withdrawal
is linked to the over-production of noradrenaline when opiates
are removed from the brain. (Incidentally, the vast majority of physical withdrawal symptoms are linked to this.) Saliva is what keeps your mouth healthy. No saliva = an unhealthy mouth.
It is possible that other factors such as time spent in withdrawal, acidity of saliva, vomiting etc come into play as well. Or it could just be that heroin rots your teeth.
I realise I haven't actually provided an answer to the question, but I've given you a lot more to think about...!