How Drug Use Affects Oral Health
A smile is often your first impression when meeting new people, interviewing for a job, or even going on a date. For those whose smile has been affected by prolonged drug use, meeting new people or being asked to be in photos can be an uncomfortable situation. One of the first things those in recovery seek is a dentist who can help remedy their lack of oral health while in the throes of addiction.
We,recently spoke with Dr. Ari Socher of Renumi Mobile, a mobile dentistry dedicated to helping clients in substance abuse rehabilitation treatment centers. Dr. Socher, who has worked in the dental field for nine years, spoke on his experiences in treating these individuals and how drugs damage a person’s physical health and appearance.
Q: What’s your passion for doing what you do?
I understand the challenges my clients face as I have family members who are also in recovery. Pain and embarrassment could trigger a relapse and I believe that I can help to make the process easier. I want to help them regain their confidence and look good. Confidence and self-esteem are important in recovery. By helping them with their dental issues, it can help them feel better about themselves and stay with the program.
How many clients do you tend to in a week and what services do you offer?
Each week, I work with about 50 clients. I have experience doing military screenings, which means I helped get service members get ready for deployment. Part of the process involved making sure their mouths were healthy and that any potential issues were taken care of before deployment. Similar to military screenings, I help those in recovery get ready to put their best face, and smile, forward when they go out to look for a job. I also complete oral cancer screenings, cleanings, bonding, fillings, extractions, and prosthetic tooth replacement procedures.
What makes Renumi Mobile so special?
What is unique about Renumi Mobile is that it’s the only mobile dental office in South Florida. Additionally, we work with dozens of treatment centers and we can go to them, rather than have their clients come to us. The convenience of our mobile office is very helpful.
When working with clients at the treatment center, what are some of the signs you see from long-term drug use?
Tooth decay, broken teeth, swollen gums or infections, discoloration, and cavities are all signs of long-term use.
What drugs most commonly cause damage to the mouth?
Drugs like meth, MDMA, speed, and ecstasy can all cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, and grinding of the teeth, also known as bruxism. Although some of the drugs can directly cause damage, other times poor self-care, poor diet, and malnutrition can exacerbate the issues.
Can you provide an example of a success story you’re proud of?
We helped a 65-year-old man named Jack from Newark, NJ. He was part of the Mature Adult Program at Destination Hope. After being involved in a bad accident and having his life turned upside down, we knew he needed our help. By providing him with dental services, it helped his appearance. He’s doing really well now.