People with drug use disorders (PWDUD) have elevated prevalence of oral diseases, in particular dental caries (tooth decay), periodontal (gum) disease and xerostomia (dry mouth). When left untreated, these oral health conditions may progress and lead to tooth ache, abscesses and tooth loss, and in turn to poor chewing functioning and digestion, dental aesthetic problems, and reduced wellbeing. Illicit drug use may per se cause xerostomia, which in turn increases vulnerability for dental caries; however, the other main drivers of oral diseases and their progression — poor oral hygiene, frequent sugar intake, and infrequent dental visits — can mainly be ascribed to the irregular lifestyle, poor economy and mental health problems that often accompany illicit drug use. Establishment of good oral health habits is essential in the dental care for PWDUD. Dental treatment is often comprehensive and challenging, as the patients may have extensive treatment needs but also difficulties adhering to preventive measures and dental appointments. An integrated care approach for PWDUD would likely benefit both their oral and general health.
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