DentalCare Logo

An Introduction to Substance Use Disorders for Dental Professionals

Course Number: 545

Oral Implications of Heroin Use/Abuse

Dental Caries: Heroin users have increased numbers of decayed, missing and filled teeth possibly the result of the drug contributing to cravings for sweet foods.28,31

Gingival and Periodontal Diseases: Heroin users demonstrate increased incidence of gingival and periodontal diseases as a result of the lack of personal and professional dental care.31

Other Oral Effects: Bruxism, fractured teeth, oral fungus, oral viral infections and discoloration of the tongue have been observed in heroin users. In addition, a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that the pattern of decay known as “meth mouth” was characteristic of intravenous heroin users as well.4,7 Since opioids reduce pain, the associated loss of sensitivity could lead to further complications due to the person ignoring the pain from dental disease.28