History of Prescription Drug Abuse

prescription drugs

The abuse of prescription painkillers and drug abuse is not a new phenomenon. This is problem that has existed for thousands of years. In the decades and centuries following its discovery, opium was used for both medicinal and recreational purposes throughout the world, including Egypt, India, and Greek, Roman, Persian and Arab Empires.


In the 15th century, China began to use opium recreationally, under the misguided notion that opium could provide longevity and a more vigorous sex life. Shortly thereafter, opium smoking in tobacco pipes became a symbol of luxury and wealth in China, influencing infamous opium dens across the country, and around the world. In 1895, Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, produced heroin with the intention of it being a less addictive form of morphine. It was offered as an over-the-counter drug for a short time until it was discovered that heroin was absorbed faster and was more addicting than morphine. By 1900 Opium, morphine, heroin and cocaine in wide use in over-the-counter medicines made by a pharmacist or a manufacturer In 1905, the US banned opium. The first national drug law was the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required accurate labeling of patent medicines containing opium and certain other drugs.


Supreme Court decisions made it illegal for doctors to prescribe any narcotic to addicts; many doctors who prescribed maintenance doses as part of an addiction treatment plan were jailed, and soon all attempts at treatment were abandoned and the use of narcotics and cocaine diminished significantly by the 1920s. The spirit of temperance led to the prohibition of alcohol by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1919, but Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

1 in 6 admit to taking prescription drugs to either get high or change their mood.Drugfree.org

In the 40’s 50’s 60’s and 70’s , various drug laws and regulations are passed. Yet derivatives of opium are used has medication. Morphine, heroin, codeine and methadone are all highly addictive derivatives of opium that were extracted and/or created with the intention of each being less harmful and addictive than its predecessor. All four substances are now considered among the most highly abused and addictive drugs available in the world. Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet are commonly prescribed synthetic opiates that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration,

The use of prescription pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilizers in an abusive manner continues. Current trends show younger people, including teenagers, are becoming addicted to these prescription medications, as well as elderly patients. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of people abusing prescription drugs increased from just under 600,000 in 1990 to 2.5 million in 2000.



Posted from Houston, Texas, United States.

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Dental Affects of Regular Marijuana Use

Dental affects of weed

While using meth has a much more dramatic effect on your teeth, marijuana still has unhealthy dental effects. Similar to smoking tobacco, regular marijuana smoking can cause gum disease and other dental health issues.

New Zealand research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the effects of marijuana smoking by analyzing the general health of over 900 adults who had ingested marijuana at least 40 times since turning 18 years of age. The findings showed that habitual pot-smokers have a greater risk of developing “periodontal disease by age 32,” even for non-smokers (WebMD.com). The connection was true even for group participants who opted against tobacco use. ( 1800dentist.com ) Cannabis smoke acts as a carcinogen and is associated with dysplastic changes and pre-malignant lesions within the oral mucosa. Users are also prone to oral infections, possibly due to the immunosuppressive effects.

habitual pot-smokers have a greater risk of developing “periodontal disease by age 321800 Dentist Study

Other effects include dry mouth and throat. Users typically experience increased thirst because of the dryness. Having a dry mouth means that your production of saliva becomes limited, and saliva is very beneficial for keeping your teeth clean because it neutralizes bacteria and plaque that create an acid that attacks your teeth. THC also has side effect that increases the appetite (also known as “the munchies”), which is that it often creates the desire to consume sugary or high carbohydrate foods. Another effect is Tetrahydrocannibol (THC), the main ingredient in marijuana, is known to interfere with the process of calcium absorption. Healthy teeth need calcium to stay strong, and long-term use of marijuana can lead to decay or tooth loss. This loss of calcium can lead to jaw bone decay and loss.

Though marijuana is considered by some as a “safe “ drug , and does not the dramatic effects of meth, it does have adverse dental health affects. These affects should not be ignored, or taken lightly. These affects of regular marijuana use should be at least known and considered if a person is considering such use,



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Long term dental effects of Methamphetamine


Methamphetamine, or meth for short s highly addictive drug that has soared in popularity since being showcased in shows such shows as Breaking Bad. It’s allure is that it takes users on a psychedelic adventure promising an unmatched euphoria. Yet meth is one of the more destructive illegal drugs in terms of dental health.

With prolonged meth abuse, the progress of dental decay can be swift and the destruction of teeth, obliteration of enamel, and damage to the nerve pulp occurs rapidly. The severe damage of teeth that occurs from chronic meth abuse is so rampant and dramatic that it has its own slang term, meth mouth. Unlike the side effects of other euphoria-generating drugs, the dental problems from meth mouth are very visible.

Though the exact cause of meth mouth is not known, what is known is extreme dry mouth, severe tooth decay, gum disease, poor oral hygiene, low nutrition, teeth grinding, and overall neglect become causative factors. Meth mouth usually starts with bad breath, cavities, and progressively swollen, bleeding, and red gums. The later stages of meth mouth are complete disintegration of the teeth.

How does Methamphetamine Destroy Teeth?

The extreme dry mouth (xerostomia) that results from meth abuse leads to a progression of decay along the gumline. With extreme dry mouth, there is a significant decrease in salivary enzymes that kill the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Also, during the high meth users are on, many partake in “buzzing,” where they will consume sugary foods and soda during cravings. The acids in the soda and the glucose in the sugary foods facilitate bacteria to continue their decay.

In the late stages of meth mouth, the results are debilitating. After a continuous and prolonged cycle of neglectful oral hygiene, dry mouth, tooth decay, progressive gum disease, and a high-risk diet, teeth can decay all the way to the gumline. This is when teeth can fall out and become decayed all the way to their roots. With many meth abusers, paranoia may also settle in, resulting in the abuser to grind their teeth, leading to the fracture of teeth and tooth loss.

The dental effects of Methamphetamine can be one of the most devastating of all the different drugs. Long-term meth abusers can experience rampant tooth decay, tooth loss, loss of taste, and an inability to chew. The dental consequences can be disastrous.

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How mouth is affected by prolong use of cocaine


It is well known cocaine effects the mind, especially in prolonged use. Yet did you know that prolonged use in cocaine can affect the mouth? It can and it does. Prolonged use of cocaine affects more than just the mind, other bodily systems and functions are effected as well, such as the mouth.

Cocaine users may suffer permanent lung damage or cancers of the throat. Those who “snort” cocaine by inhaling it through the nose repeatedly, may damage the lining of their nose, throat or larynx, to the point of destruction of all tissues lining those organs. Permanent damage may be caused, requiring surgical repair for appropriate functioning of nose and/or throat as there could be scarring of the throat. Chronic sore throats are also another symptom of prolonged cocaine use.

Cocaine users have the tendency of users to grind their teeth when under the influence of cocaine. Users may grind their teeth or clench their jaws when under duress, which is more often, due to the cognitive damage done to the brain of the user. They may wear down or break teeth and many have serious dental problems subsequent to long-term use of cocaine.

Cocaine users frequently suffer from bruxism, commonly giving rise to pain in the temporomandibular joint and masticatory muscles. Mild attrition affecting all canines and first premolars as well as the upper lateral incisors was observed in a patient with a two-year history of regular use of cocaine and other drugs. Administration of cocaine to rats also induced a significant increase in attrition rate and non-functional masticatory activity. The increased risk of cervical abrasion is probably related to excessive vigorous tooth brushing. (nature.com)

Users sometimes rub cocaine over their gums which causes ulceration of gums and the underlying bone. When cocaine mixes with saliva it creates an acidic solution, which erodes tooth enamel.

Sufficed to say, cocaine, along with the known neurological effects, has dental effects as well. Dry mouth, gum erosion, broken teeth, and even oral cancers are all effects of prolonged use of cocaine. SAMHSA’s National Helpline (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental health and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.


Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) http://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline



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What To Do For Heart Attack or Stroke


Do you know the signs? Sweating. Pressure. Nausea. Jaw pain. Believe it or not, these are all symptoms of a heart attack. Hard to believe  but they are also symptoms that are often brushed off as the flu, stress or simply feeling under the weather, yet they are symptoms of  life threatening heart attack or stroke.

Signs of a Heart Attack

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.


As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But it’s important to note that women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

What to do during a heart attack

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Do not wait to call for help. call 9-1-1, and  make sure to follow the operator’s instructions and get to a hospital right away.
  • Do not drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital unless you have no other choice.
  • Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency responders.

Symptoms of a Stroke

Signs that you may be having a stroke:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause
You should never wait more than five minutes to dial 9-1-1 if you experience even one of the signs above. Remember, you could be having a stroke even if you’re not experiencing all of the symptoms. And remember to check the time. The responding emergency medical technician or ER nurse at the hospital will need to know when the first symptom occurred.



Stroke is not only the No. 4 cause of death in the United States, it’s also a leading cause of severe, long-term disability. It is vital to take action immediately. Research conducted by The American Stroke Association shows that patients who take a clot-busting drug, or thrombolytic, within three hours of their first stroke symptom can reduce long-term disability from ischemic stroke – the most common type, accounting for about 87 percent of all cases.

Information provided by American Heart Association

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Study finds link between tooth loss and mental, physical decline in older adults


The research found that adults with their own teeth tested better in memory and physical tests. he study, out of University College of London, studied over 3,100 British adults over the age of 60 from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), and compared memory and walking speed within the demographic. Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the research found that study participants with none of their own teeth performed approximately 10% worse in both walking speed and memory tests than participants that had some natural teeth. The associations between poorer memory and physical function were more obvious in adults 60-74 years of age than in those over 75.

“Tooth loss could be used as an early marker of mental and physical decline in older age, particularly among 60-74 year-olds,” said lead author Dr. Georgios Tsakos of the UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health in a recent college news release. “Regardless of what is behind the link between tooth loss and decline in function, recognizing excessive tooth loss presents an opportunity for early identification of adults at higher risk of faster mental and physical decline later in their life. There are many factors likely to influence this decline, such as lifestyle and psychosocial factors, which are amenable to change.

Prior to making conclusions about the associations between tooth loss and memory and physical function decline, researchers adjusted the results for potentially influential factors, such as sociodemographic characteristics, preexisting health problems, socioeconomic status and education. Despite the adjustments for these factors, people without their own teeth still walked slower than those who still had their teeth.

The full study, “Tooth Loss Associated with Physical and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults,” was first published in December on the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society website.

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Forming Flossing Habits


Flossing is just as important as brushing. flossing does about 40% of the work required to remove sticky bacteria, or plaque, from your teeth. (WebMD). The reason many don’t floss is because flossing doesn’t produce an instant gratification. Yet flossing can remove the bacteria and protect teeth from disease and from falling out. Here is some ways to build a habit of flossing to help your teeth and gum health.

  1. Pick a trigger. For a habit to be automatic, it needs a trigger — something that is already in your daily routine. If you already brush your teeth every morning, regularly, then you can use that as your trigger. When you go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, and reach for your toothbrush ( your trigger) reach for your floss right beside your toothbrush. Floss right at that point, before you brush your teeth, and then brush your teeth after.
  2. Have a visual reminder. The key is to do the new habit right after the trigger, but at first you might easily forget. Remember we said the about having the floss right beside your toothbrush? That is your visual reminder, so you won’t forget. You might also put up a note next to your bathroom mirror so you can’t possibly forget.
  3. Floss just one tooth. This is an old idea, but it works well. Start your habit by just flossing one tooth. It’s so remarkably easy that you won’t be able to say it’s too hard, or you don’t have the time. It may feel a bit ridiculous, but just do it. On day two, floss two teeth. Slowly expand every 1-3 days until you’re flossing all your teeth. Sure, you won’t get the full benefit of flossing all your teeth at first, but the key is not to get the full benefit but to create a habit that lasts.
  4. Focus on the enjoyment. Many people put off flossing because it seems hard or boring or unpleasant, but it doesn’t have to be. Flossing is a pleasurable activity if you allow yourself to be present, and think about how your teeth are getting cleaner and how nice that is. Doesn’t everyone love the feeling of clean teeth.
  5. Mark it on your calendar. Every day you floss, mark a big X on your calendar .Try to string together a bunch of Xs, That’s really all it takes. Focus on this one habit for a few weeks to a month, and you’ll have a new flossing habit.


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Gummy Smile Causes and Treatment with Laser Gum Lift


Do you hate to smile? Is the reason because too much of your gums show when you smile? It is a condition known as gummy smile. The good news is gummy smile can be fixed!

There are several possible causes of gummy smile, including:

An excessive display of gum tissue in your upper jaw can result from the abnormal eruption of the teeth. Tooth eruption is an active process by which the teeth move through the gums and supporting bone to become visible in the mouth. It usually ceases in adulthood when growth is completed. Teeth covered by excessive gum tissue appear short, even though they may actually be the proper length.

The muscle that controls the movement of your upper lip could be hyperactive, causing your upper lip to rise up higher than normal. When this occurs, more of your gum tissue is exposed when you smile.

The way your upper jaw bone grew and developed could cause the appearance of a gummy smile. For instance, if there was an excessive bulging protrusion of the upper jaw within the gum tissue, you would experience an obvious gummy appearance when you smile.

Gummy Smile Treatments:

Traditional methods involve invasive surgical procedures as well as long healing times. That includes:

  • Gingivectomy (gumlift) or Crown Lengthening Surgery (gum and minor underlying bone reshaping) Originally this was done with scaples
  • Lip repositioning surgery
  • Orthognathic surgery: This is a procedure performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in collaboration with an orthodontist, for which we can provide a referral should your case be suitable. Surgery can be performed to move the upper jaw (maxilla) upwards, reducing the amount of tooth and gum on display. This is a more invasive surgical approach, but may be most suitable for patients with jaw alignment discrepancies and a vertically excessive maxilla.


The newest and most common solutions are laser contouring or laser gum lift. (Gingivectomy). Gum lifts are used to create symmetry and make the teeth appear larger, whiter, and more attractive all around. Using a laser for a gum lift is that the laser seals the gums, eliminating the need for stitches, and greatly decreasing the amount of bleeding. The recovery period after a laser gum lift is short, and patients usually only require over-the-counter painkillers; while the results are drastic and impressive, the procedure isn’t one that will cause you to take time out of your schedule to heal.

If you want to fix your gummy smile, please see your Houston cosmetic dentist Ellen Lim or Progressive Dental to discuss your options and fix your smile!

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TMJ symptoms and treatment modalities

TMJTMJ or the temporo-mandibular joint is a complex joint. It connects the lower jaw or the mandible to the temporal bone which is a part of the skull. It is a complex and large group of nerves, blood vessels, delicate small muscles, ligaments and tendons, fibrous surface layer, synovial fluid, bone tissue and a cartilaginous disc. All these work together as a single system and control movements that lead to talking, chewing or any other mouth movement. It is also responsible for proper breathing and maintaining body balance.

Given how important this joint is, any dysfunction or disorder here immediately affects overall health. Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ syndrome refers to chronic or acute pain in the area leading to neck and head pain, ear pain along with the swelling of proximal tissue, clicking or popping sound when the mouth opens, bones may lock and make movements very painful and restrictive. The primary cause of TMJ is muscular hyper- or para-function which affects the oral musculoskeletal system and displacement of the disc in the temporomandibular joint.

TMJ is completely controlled by masticatory muscles like the temporalis, masseter, lateral pterygoid and medial pterygoid. Along with these the neck, shoulder and back muscles also have significant impact on the TMJ. TMJ syndrome can also affect other joint disorders in the body like arthritis, ankylosis, dislocations and neoplasia among others. Early diagnosis and treatment is imperative to contain the spread and acuteness of pain.

TMJ symptoms

  • Blinking
  • Jaw clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty or discomfort in chewing or biting
  • Earaches, dizziness and ringing sensation in the ear
  • Chronic Headaches – Can range from migraines, cluster headache to tension headaches. The intensity is more in the mornings.
  • Dull, aching pain in the face along with jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Hearing loss
  • Lack of balance and unstable gait
  • Difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath
  • Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
  • Tinnitus
  • Chronic neck and shoulder pain
  • Fatigue and lack of energy

More severe TMJ symptoms include:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia – A sharp electric-type pain manifested by painful twitch of nerves.
  • Fibromyalgia – Chronic pain which leads to rheumatic disorders affecting women.
  • Whiplash – TM joint displacement due to jarring collision leads to neck pain and then to headache and upper shoulder girdle pain.
  • Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders

Various TMJ treatment modalities:

  • Occlusal adjustment or Occlusal equilibration
  • Occlusal splints (or night guards and mouth guards)
  • Restoration of the occlusal surfaces of the teeth
  • Nighttime biofeedback to reduce bruxism and subsequent damage
  • Analgesic pain killers and NSAIDs offer temporary pain relief
  • Antidepressants and injections are also used to quiet nerves

Functional TMJ treatment modalities include:

  • Exercise
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Spa therapy
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic therapy,
  • Clinical nutritional therapy and supplement

In very severe cases, where functional treatment cannot make any headway, surgery or full mouth reconstruction may be recommenced. Apart from these you will also come across Cranio-mandibular-cervical Orthodontics which falls under the new age TMJ treatment modalities.

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Chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatment affects oral health

Oral Health Side Effects from Cancer Treatments

Chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatment affects oral health of patients being treated for cancer. Dental and oral health refers to the well-being of the entire mouth, including the teeth, gums, lining of the mouth (mucosa), and salivary glands (the glands that produce saliva). Dental and oral side effects may make it difficult to eat, talk, chew, or swallow.



Types of dental and oral side effects

Side effects of the mouth caused by cancer treatment may include:

Some side effects may disappear shortly after treatment is finished, while others may be long-lasting or permanent.

Radiation therapy to the head and neck.

Side effects from radiation therapy to the head and neck may include dry mouth, tooth decay, loss of taste, mouth and gum sores, bone disease, and stiffness in the jaw. These side effects may be temporary or can continue for several years after treatment. Because the risk of developing some of these side effects is linked to dental disease, seeing a dentist before cancer treatment begins is important.  During this appointment, the dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, and gums and address any areas of concern, such as broken, fractured, or infected teeth; poorly fitting dentures; and gum disease to help reduce the risk of potential cancer treatment-related side effects. During treatment, your dentist may recommend special fluoride treatments to help prevent dental decay and infection that can be caused by not producing enough saliva during radiation therapy. Learn more about the side effects of radiation therapy.


Common side effects of chemotherapy include mouth sores, pain in the mouth and gums, peeling or burning of the tongue, infection, and changes in taste. Chemotherapy may also cause a temporary decrease in your body’s ability to produce infection-fighting cells. Therefore, treating and eliminating any areas of infection in the mouth or teeth should be a priority before starting treatment. Also be sure to let your dentist know you will be starting chemotherapy so he or she can eliminate any potential sources of new infection or irritation. In general, fixed orthodontic appliances like braces should be removed before chemotherapy begins. Dental and oral side effects from chemotherapy usually go away soon after treatment ends. Learn more about the side effects of chemotherapy.



Prevention is always the best first line of defense. Make an appointment with a dentist at least four weeks before starting cancer treatment. If you need to have a dental procedure, such as the removal of a tooth, ask your dentist how soon after the procedure you can start cancer treatment. The recommended time for healing between dental surgery and the start of cancer treatment is at least two weeks. Of course, each case is different so please consult with your dentist.

Other Things You Can Do While In Treatment

Gently brush your teeth two times a day and floss regularly. It may also help to soak an extra-soft toothbrush in warm water to soften the bristles before brushing. If you are receiving chemotherapy, your doctor may give you special instructions to reduce the risk of bleeding and infection.


Avoid alcohol and extremes in your diet. Try eating foods that are soft and mild. Extremely hot, cold, spicy, acidic, or crunchy foods may irritate your mouth.

Promote good bone health. Getting enough vitamin D and calcium each day helps promote a strong, healthy jaw and teeth. Dairy products and juices can be a good source of vitamin D.

Management and treatment

If you experience any dental or oral side effects, including any pain, bleeding, a decrease in the ability to open your mouth, or swelling in the mouth, let your doctor and dentist know. Relieving side effects, also called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care, is an important part of cancer care and treatment.


Possible treatments of oral health side effects could include:

  • Mouth rinses that contain salt and baking soda may help treat mouth sores.
  • Pain medications, including narcotics, may also be used to treat pain from mouth sores.
  • Antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and/or antifungal drugs are used to treat infections.
  • Drinking water and sugarless drinks may help manage dry mouth. Sucking on ice chips may also help.
  • Try to avoid things that will dry out the mouth, such as soda, fruit juice, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and alcohol.
  • Medications that stimulate the production of saliva may be recommended for some people to help prevent or minimize drug mouth.



Posted from Houston, Texas, United States.

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