Gum Disease as a symptom of Addiction

Gum disease (or Periodontitis) is a condition that can cause serious damage to the mouth and jaw. It is primarily caused by bacterial growth in the mouth. The first stage of Periodontitis is gum inflammation – also known as Gingivitis. This happens when bacteria in plaque grow uncontrollably, causing inflammation and bleeding gums. It is usually when gingivitis is ignored that Periodontitis takes hold, whereby the inner layer of the gums separates from the teeth, forming little holes that eventually fill up with debris and become infected.

Toxins produced by the bacteria – as well as the body’s immune system fighting the bacteria – break down the bone and connective tissue of the teeth and jaw. As more gum tissue and bone are destroyed by this process, the teeth eventually fall out.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Some symptoms of the disease include:

  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding during and after brushing your teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath

While Periodontitis is caused by bacteria in plaque, there are some factors that are known to aggravate the situation. For instance, smoking can prevent gum tissue from healing itself. Gum disease is a telltale sign of smoking addiction – especially tobacco and marijuana. On a larger scale, drug addicts may not take the time to look after their oral health, either due to intoxication or financial constraints. Oral health is often overlooked whilst in a ‘high’ state. Even when the addict notices a problem, there may be no money to spend on visits to the dentist, as all available cash tends to go towards funding the drug habit. Also, those who abuse pain medication may not experience any pain related to the disease.

Prevention and Treatment

Gum disease can be prevented. Gingivitis can be cured by professional plaque cleanings and good oral hygiene habits. These include:

  • Regular brushing and flossing of your teeth to remove plaque from teeth surfaces, in between the teeth, and under the gum line
  • Use of antibacterial mouth wash to reduce the risk of bacterial infection

Treatment of gum disease depends on how far it has progressed. Medication is given to stop bacterial growth, reduce the size of the holes and risk of infection, as well as reduce inflammation. However, for serious cases of the disease, surgery might be required to restore badly damaged tissues and bone.

Only a dentist or a periodontist can diagnose and treat gum disease. This is why dentists are part of the medical staff in treatment centres and always on standby to take care of your oral health, as you recover from your addiction.

It’s difficult to adhere to healthy oral hygiene habits whilst in the grip of addiction. You cannot afford a visit to a dentist, because all your finances go towards feeding your drug habit. You isolate yourself socially, mostly surrounding yourself with fellow drug users who have the same issues as you. Addiction is a therefore deadly disease. Visit a treatment centre as soon as possible to begin the detox process. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances of making a complete recovery.

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