Drug Use and Your Mouth

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Anatomy of Oral Cavity

Courtesy of PubMed Health

Anatomy of the Oral Cavity

In collaboration with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

How does drug use affect the mouth? 

When dentists say, “open wide,” they can see a treasure trove of information about your overall health. Your mouth can give the dentist clues about your eating habits, oral hygiene, and other behaviors such as smoking and drug use.

Using drugs can harm your teeth and gums, the roof of your mouth (the hard palate and soft palate); the area under the tongue (floor of your mouth), the lining of your cheeks; the tongue; lips; salivary glands; chewing muscles; and jaw joint.1

Studies show that people with substance use problems have worse oral (mouth) health than other people, including more tooth decay and gum disease.2

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.

2 Baghaie H, Kisely S, Forbes M, Sawyer E, and Siskind DJ. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between poor oral health and substance abuse. Addiction. 2017, 112: doi:10.1111/add.13754.

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