Do Alcoholics and Addicts Have Bad Teeth?

Do Alcoholics and Addicts Have Bad Teeth

I came across a study recently that looked at the severity of oral hygiene problems and tooth and gum damage in patients with different types of addiction. The study looked at alcoholics, opiate addicts, cannabis addicts, and other substances of addiction as well. I find this topic particularly important because addicts and alcoholics often have problems with their teeth, and in many cases, substance use disorders can cause people to put off preventative cleanings and other professional appointments. If a person is spending more money on drugs and alcohol, that fact alone can cause problems with oral hygiene if dental appointments are missed, skipped, or never scheduled in the first place. There are many questions beyond just the financial aspect, however, that I believe make this an interesting issue to draw attention to. There are physical complications with both alcohol and other drugs. The fact is certain substances are damaging to the teeth and gums. Then there are many lifestyle issues that go along with substance use disorders, and many of these can cause dental problems for a variety of reasons. If you found this article because you are investigating, for you or a loved one, the best drug rehabs in Florida or anywhere else, this article is connected to a site with a wide array of information on different treatment types. 

From a physical point of view, alcoholics seem to have a worse time than opiate addicts. Alcohol is physically damaging to the teeth. Opiates are not. This problem persists in other aspects of the body after a person achieves sobriety. When opiate addicts get sober, they generally do not suffer from any long-term damage done to their systems. Alcoholics, on the other hand, suffer from liver damage most famously, but alcohol damages too many parts of the body to even list here. If the risk of death from overdose is an urgent reason for an opiate addict to get sober, amongst many other good reasons; massive damage being done to many different organs and systems is a great reason to stop drinking, even though alcoholics suffer in myriad ways unrelated to health if they do not give up alcohol. There are other drugs that are thought to be physically damaging to teeth. It is thought that cocaine addicts, through teeth grinding, can severely damage their teeth. Methamphetamine addicts are known for having bad teeth, and that could be from grinding, but also from the physical effects that harmful chemicals have on teeth. 

The lifestyle effects of addiction seem to be present with most types of drugs. Although opiates do not harm your teeth, it is very unlikely you will go to the dentist if you are spending all your time and money on opiates. It is also very likely that an opiate addict’s oral hygiene would suffer from the non-financial lifestyle effects of addiction. If you are falling asleep most nights from opiates, and not on a regular schedule, then tooth brushing may not be a top priority. This could be equally true with alcohol. If a person is falling asleep from alcohol each night, they may not be brushing their teeth, and alcohol is particularly damaging to teeth in the physical sense as well. The study that I looked at, published in the journal Oral Health and Preventative Dentistry, studied people with substance use disorder and tried to connect different substance groups with different levels of dental damage. Another important factor that the study included was the number of years that someone has suffered from a substance use disorder. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or alcoholism, one of the best drug rehabs in Florida is available online at, and if you are already here, please go to the program page for more information. 

According to the authors, 

“This study explored the oral health of individuals with substance use disorders and examined the relationship between oral health and type and number of years of substance use disorder.”

The results of the study indicated poor oral health in the cases of people with substance use disorder. For most of these people, the damage to the teeth and gums seemed to be worse depending on how long they had a substance use disorder. Opiate addicts, cocaine addicts, alcoholics, and cannabis addicts were studied. Oral health problems were lower, across the board, in cannabis addicts. All other addictions seemed to have serious negative effects on the dental health of the individuals studied. I believe that the many factors I mentioned in this article, physical, lifestyle, and financial, are all contributing to this problem. I write for one of the absolute best drug rehabs in the state of Florida, and more information on different treatment options can be found on this website. 

By Tim Cannon (



“Oral Health Among Swedish Patients with Substance Use Disorders – A Comparative, Cross-Sectional Study.” Oral health & preventive dentistry [Oral Health Prev Dent] 2020 Apr 01; Vol. 18 (2), pp. 229-237. Date of Electronic Publication: 2020 Apr 01.