A new research effort discovers a majority of substance-dependent individuals have poor oral health.
Given the frequency of poor hygiene, investigators believe discussion of oral health may be an “entry-level” opportunity to engage addicts to improve their health and wellness.
Boston University researchers studied alcohol, stimulant, opioid and marijuana users. The subjects were asked to self-report their oral health status on a five-point scale ranging from poor to excellent.
Statistical analysis of the patients’ reports found no significant associations between the types of substances used and oral health status. The results did show, however, that 60 percent of all subjects reported fair or poor oral health. Opioid users in the sample also exhibited worse oral health compared to one year ago.
“We found that the majority of our sample reported fair or poor oral health,” said Meredith D’Amore, M.P.H.
“Thus, oral health should be considered a significant health problem among individuals with substance dependence and providers should be aware of potential oral health issues.”
The researchers hope that their findings prompt more oral health interventions targeted toward individuals with substance dependence in the future. They also suggest that engaging addicts in medical care discussions may be facilitated by addressing oral health concerns.
The research is found online in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
Source: Boston University Medical Center