Substance Abuse

Alcoholism and drug dependence are serious problems in the United States. Chemical dependency (alcohol, drugs, nitrous oxide) is a chronic progressive disease that can affect all aspects of a person’s life.

Common oral findings may include:

  • periodontal disease
  • bruxism
  • oral cancer

Substance abuse may impact the provision of dental care in the following ways:

  • illicit drug users may be at risk for HIV and HBV infections; the practitioner should be aware of signs of AIDS; use universal precautions
  • long term alcohol abuse affects the liver and bone marrow which may result in impaired clotting and prolong post-operative infection
  • consultation with patient’s physician may be indicated as well as blood tests (CBC, PT, PTT and total protein, albumin, liver transaminases)
  • the use of certain therapeutic agents, such as narcotic analgesics, could have an adverse effect on the relapse potential of patients who are recovering from chemical dependency