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Friday, April 15, 2011

Oral Health and Drug Addicts

Drugs and alcohol pay a heavy toll on the human body in a number of ways that are less than to be desired. Mental deterioration over years of abuse is the major side effect of addiction, but, there are other areas of the body that begin to suffer as well. Oral health is an area that can spiral out of control if left unchecked and reports show that addicts have very poor oral hygiene. Most people associate poor oral heath health and methamphetamine due to the Faces of Meth ad that have been shown across the country, but, researchers have found that they are not alone when it comes to addiction and poor oral health.

Public health, dental medicine and internal medicine faculty from Boston University examined the toll taken of different substances on oral health among a selected group of addicts. Alcohol, cocaine, meth, opioid and marijuana users were included in the study. The candidates were asked to report on their oral health status on a five-point scale ranging from poor to excellent. Interestingly, the statistical analysis of the patients' reports showed no strong connections between the types of substances used and oral health status. However, 60 percent of all subjects reported fair or poor oral health, with Opioid users in the sample showing worse oral health compared to one year ago.

"We found that the majority of our sample reported fair or poor oral health," said Meredith D'Amore, MPH, a researcher in the Health/care Disparities Research Program at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. "Thus, oral health should be considered a significant health problem among individuals with substance dependence and providers should be aware of potential oral health issues." The Boston University research team hopes that their research will be the platform for other studies on oral health and addiction. Talking to addicts about their oral health may be a gateway to talking to them about other health concerns with addiction.

Medical News Today
Boston University Medical Center

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