The road to recovery from alcoholism can be a long and tough journey, but one of the ways to help assure success is to also regain control over the rest of your health. Alcohol and substance abuse is especially hard on your teeth and gums. The following guide can help you understand some common issues and their proper treatment.
Gum disease, which includes gingivitis and periodontal disease, can lead to the loss of your teeth. It occurs when infections in your gums lead to the loss of tissue. This can then weaken your gum's grip on your teeth, causing them to loosen and later fall out. Researchers have found that those suffering from alcoholism are likely to have a higher occurrence of periodontal disease. This could be because of poor dental hygiene, the increased sugar levels in alcohol, or poor circulation due to the substance abuse. Treatment entails deep cleanings to remove the plaque and stop the infections in the gums. The gums are then monitored regularly to help control the progress of the disease. In extreme cases where there is major gum loss, new gum tissue may be grafted on.
Decay is also a prevalent problem, in part because of poor hygiene practices. Failure to follow up on dental care or to self medicate to overcome any mouth pain means that decay can be quite progressed when you do make the decision to pursue sobriety. Minor cavities can usually be drilled out an filled. The concern is when the tooth has abscessed. This means an infection has gotten deep into the tooth. It can sometimes be saved with a root canal, which removes the infected pulp and replaces it with a crown. In severe cases, the tooth may require removal.
Both periodontal disease and decay can lead to tooth loss. Infections in the bone can also lead to bone loss, which means that the teeth will no longer have anything to root to. This also results in tooth loss. Dentures, bridges, and implants are the options for tooth replacement. If bone loss is severe, dentures may be the only option unless a bone graft is possible.
When seeking treatment as a recovering alcoholic, make sure that your dentist and hygienist are aware that you are in recovery. They can use this information to guide treatment. For example, it may be better to avoid any procedure that would necessitate the use of narcotic painkillers. Your dentist may also opt to slow down treatments and spread them over several sessions to help eliminate the need for painkillers. Consider your dentist a partner in your recovery – by being honest with them, your dentist can help on the road to healing your smile and yourself.
Talk to a dentist like Centre Family Dentistry or your local dentist to figure out how you can start to recover your smile.