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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Rising drug use will result in increased dental problems

Date posted: 4 April 2014

Australian health experts have warned a rise in drug use will cause an increase in other health issues including severe dental problems.

Sharon Liberali, Director of the Special Needs Unit at the Adelaide Dental Hospital, says the use of methamphetamine can cause oral health issues including teeth grinding and tooth decay, particularly in teens and young adults.

Ms Liberali says there are long-term, serious effects for chronic users of methamphetamine. 'Predominantly the two major impacts are on the hyperactivity of the muscles that we use to chew with, and that causes a lot of clenching and grinding. That can cause damage to the teeth by teeth breaking,' she said. 'The other activity we see is what we call xerostomia or dry mouth. What that does is increase your risk around dental decay. It also increases your risk around oral infections in your mouth, for example thrush.'

It is expected drug-associated oral health issues will rise as the use of methamphetamine continues.

Dr Robert Ali, from the Drug and Alcohol Services in South Australia, says he expects the figures to increase in the 2013 National Drug Strategy survey due to a rise in police drug seizures and overseas containers carrying illicit drugs arriving in Australia, as well as the number of people seeking treatment for addiction.

Acting Chief Executive of the Public Health Association of Australia, Melanie Walker, says state and Commonwealth governments need to maintain a national strategy to drug use. 'What we're really concerned about is that some of those key health promotion services, education programs and drug treatment programs, their capacity to deal with people and assist people may be diminished by funding cuts,' Ms Walker said. 'In order to effectively deal with these problems in our community, we need this suite of services in place.'

Source: The West Australian


Last updated: 9 April 2014
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