Dental erosion due to abuse of illicit drugs and acidic carbonated beverages

Gen Dent. 2013 Mar-Apr;61(2):38-44.


Consumption of illicit drugs and the abusive intake of acidic carbonated beverages (particularly soda) often are associated with similar types of damage to the human dentition, the most common of which is dental erosion. The dentitions of individuals who are addicted to methamphetamines or crack cocaine can be misdiagnosed as dental caries rather than generalized dental erosion, a condition that also is associated with chronic excessive consumption of soda. Failing to identify the causative etiology could lead to a wrongful diagnosis that could in turn adversely affect treatment planning and misdirect a specified prevention protocol. This article seeks to identify the unique clinical features of each one of these conditions, highlight the resemblances between them, and recognize the unambiguous differences in their fundamental characteristics. Three representative cases-involving a methamphetamine user, a crack cocaine addict, and an avid consumer of diet soda-are presented. In each case, the patient has admitted to the cause of their poor oral health. The dental, oral, and paraoral manifestations of each case are documented and differentiated from one another, and the factors that contributed to the associated disease process are discussed.

Keywords: Dental erosion; clinical features; crack cocaine; diet soda; methamphetamine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbonated Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Crack Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography, Panoramic
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Tooth Erosion / diagnosis
  • Tooth Erosion / etiology*
  • Tooth Erosion / physiopathology


  • Crack Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine