The negative impact that drugs and alcohol have on the body and mind are plentiful, but one that can often go overlooked is the effect that it has on our oral health.

Whether it’s the effect of alcohol on teeth, or what drugs can do to your oral health and gums, none of it is pretty. Find out here why both can be a detriment to your health and how you can solve this should you already be suffering the consequences.

Effects of Drugs on Teeth & Oral Health

A man holding his tooth with tooth decay

There are various ways that substance abuse can impact the oral health of the user, while often people may think there are only negative effects on the body on the inside, with consistent use, you will likely begin to see the detriment drugs are doing to your teeth when you smile.

Some of these include, but are not limited to:

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a hugely common problem among drug users, it is something that is caused from drugs such as methamphetamine, crack cocaine and more.

This is often due to the dry mouth effect drugs can have. Dry mouth is a result of reduced saliva production and when this happens, there isn’t any saliva to neutralise the acid and wash away the bacteria that will build up in the mouth.

This repeated process will contribute to the deterioration of your teeth.

Gum Disease

The effect of drugs on teeth and gums when it comes to aesthetics in particular is detrimental. Gum disease is not something to underestimate, if you get this, your gums become inflamed, bleed and eventually pull away from the teeth.

This leads to your teeth falling out among other persistent oral issues that will impact the health of your mouth in the future.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Some drugs’ effect on teeth can hurt and be very uncomfortable, such as bruxism. This is the action of grinding your teeth whether it is during drug use as a response to being ‘high’ or afterwards without being consciously aware that you’re doing it.

Whatever it is, this action can wear down the enamel and cause real pain and sensitivity.

Oral cancer

Oral cancer is a scary thought, but one that should act as a huge deterrent to using drugs. While smoking and tobacco use is widely known for causing cancer, other substances being smoked can also be a big contributing factor.

Alcohol Effect on Teeth & Oral Health

a woman tired brushing her teeth

Whether it is alcohol breath, or more serious oral health implications, there are some things that can’t be overlooked in terms of the effect of alcohol on teeth and overall oral health. That in mind, here are some things to consider if you’re struggling with alcohol abuse.

Tooth Decay

Similar to the effect drug use can have on the teeth, tooth decay can be a huge part of alcohol abuse due to the sugar contents.

The sugar alcohol effect on teeth is detrimental. The problem is that now, alcoholic drinks have become rather tasty, meaning there is a sugary and addictive aspect to keep drinking rather than some sort of deterrent.

Things like cocktails and spirits mixed with sugary drinks should always be limited or avoided. However, still, drinks such as beer and wine contain acids that have the capability to erode tooth enamel and decay the teeth.


If alcohol breath and tooth decay didn’t do it, the staining from drinking alcohol might tip you over the edge.

Another one of the many negative effects of drinking alcohol excessively is that some drinks like red wine in particular and other dark coloured drinks can stain your teeth.

This makes for a less attractive smile, knocking your own self confidence and losing another battle to alcoholism.

How to Combat The Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on Teeth

woman flossing

In order to deal with the effect of drugs on teeth and gums, as well as the impact alcohol has on your oral health too, you should practise and maintain optimal oral hygiene.

This means brushing at least twice a day and flossing too. While it may not be at the top of your priority list when you’re in active addiction, you can persist to make this a small step on the road to recovery whether it be in rehab or out.

If you’re concerned about the type of drink that you are consuming often, reduce the sugary and acidic drinks that have the capability to erode your teeth.

However, when it comes to drugs, in order to combat the toll it is taking on your oral health, you first need to address the drug addiction. To do this, it is a good idea to consider out-patient, or in-patient rehab.

This is going to address the drug addiction and or the alcohol addiction at its core to avoid future relapse. This is crucial, you will learn in rehab how to deal with things like abandoning your hygiene through the likes of group and CBT therapy.

Oral hygiene is just one branch of many negative health implications drug and alcohol abuse brings, however by understanding them one by one, you’re more likely to recognise the signs that you require help.

Talk to Ocean Recovery Today for Help on Getting Clean

At Ocean Recovery, you can stay in a tranquil environment that will allow you to recover and rejuvenate to a happier and healthier you.

View our facilities here, we have a homely rehab centre that has everything you need, as well as people just like you who are getting back on their feet.

Take advantage of group therapy, 1-2-1 therapy and medically assisted detoxes to give you the best chance at a relapse free future after your time at Ocean Recovery.

Don’t hesitate to find out more by calling on 01253 847 553 today.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: March 23, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.