The effects of smoking crack on your teeth

Written by amanda goldfarb
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The effects of smoking crack on your teeth
Extensive dental work may be required to fix crack-related damage. (dentist image by Sandor Kacso from Fotolia.com)

Crack is made by cooking cocaine with baking soda or ammonia. These chemicals cause the drug to crystallise, forming small rocks. These rocks are then smoked using a pipe. This form of cocaine is popular because it's quickly absorbed across the membranes of the lungs, creating a quick high. There are many harmful effects of smoking crack including anxiety, paranoia, malnutrition and addiction. One of the most visible side effects is the damage done to teeth of chronic crack users.

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Discolouration

Poor nutrition leads to the yellow and brown teeth crack users often have. One side effect of smoking crack is loss of appetite. Heavy crack users often go several days without eating, leading to severe malnutrition. Vitamins such as calcium, thiamine and iron are critical for tooth health. A lack of these vitamins can cause teeth to become weak and discoloured.

Blisters

The acids released when crack cocaine is heated breaks down the membranes of your lips and gums, causing blisters to form throughout your mouth. As the blisters break down, harmful infections occur damaging the teeth and gums. Scar tissue can also form over healed blisters, forcing teeth out of their normal position.

Cavities

A cavity is a hole in the surface of the teeth. Components of proper hygiene such as brushing teeth and flossing regularly are required to maintain tooth health. Crack cocaine targets the sympathetic nervous system that speeds up the systems of your body, resulting in faster heart rate, nerve function and breathing rates. Quickened nerve impulses lead users to a hyperactive state, making simple processes such as proper hygiene difficult to maintain. Poor tooth hygiene leads to cavities and structural damage to the teeth.

Cracked Teeth

Bruxism is a common result of the heightened state of anxiety that crack cocaine use induces. Bruxism is teeth grinding that results from frequent jaw clenching. Since crack also prohibits the uptake of dopamine, users experience a prolonged sense of euphoria, masking the pain typically associated with teeth clenching. As a result, users may not be aware they are grinding their teeth. Cracked and loosened teeth result from the amount of pressure applied to the teeth.

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