Drug-dependent patients report poor oral health

The majority of individuals with substance-dependence problems report having poor oral health, according to a new study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (April 6, 2011).

Researchers from Boston University investigated the effects of different substances on oral health among a sample of substance-dependent individuals. Alcohol, stimulant, opioid, and marijuana users were included. The subjects were asked to self-report their oral health status on a five-point scale ranging from poor to excellent.

"Using self-reported data from 563 substance-dependent individuals, we found that most reported unsatisfactory oral health, with their most recent dental visit more than one year ago," the study authors wrote.

In multivariable logistic regressions, none of the substance types was significantly associated with oral health status, they noted. The results did show, however, that 60% of all subjects reported fair or poor oral health. In addition, opioid use was significantly related to a worse overall oral health rating compared with oral health one year ago, the authors added.

"We found that the majority of our sample reported fair or poor oral health," said Meredith D'Amore, MPH, a researcher in the Health/care Disparities Research Program at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. "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.

Page 1 of 206
Next Page