Are Recreational Ecstasy Users Not Lovin’ Their Teeth And Gums?
Are Recreational Ecstasy Users Not Lovin’ Their Teeth And Gums?
Molly, pingers, caps, disco biscuits, XTC, eccy, X are just some of the many names we’ve assigned to MDMA.
They’re terms of affection and levity: a remarkably universal method of expressing something of emotional value. It’s the same reason we have pet names for partners and monikers for mutts and moggies.
By whichever it is that’s the most familiar to you – which is likely not methylenedioxymethamphetamine – studies reveal that most people between the ages of 13 and 66 have used ecstasy at least once in their lives.
Although who’s to know. Patients in their 70s and 80s are now being prescribed CBD oils and herbs, experiencing the therapeutic advantages for the first time in their lives. The microdosing of psilocybin has been proving a breakthrough treatment for some emotional and psychological disorders, and also as a gentle tool for the transition of palliative care.
One end of that study spectrum seems far too young; the other far too old to take it, particularly having to include the possibility of it being their one-and-only dose.
More probably it’s remained a part of their lives for a few decades. The frequency may certainly have diminished to just particular environments or an annual event, the reluctance to give up the sensation remains.
Even if the quality of the product hasn’t.
Like diminutive Big Macs, withered Wagon Wheels and the musky musklessness of musk sticks, no matter the massive change in potency and purity of this popular party drug, it’s still in high demand.
Applying the inexhaustive 50-is-the-new-40 rule still unconsciously prickles something incongruent; an ill-fitting tightness in the arms of an ageist perspective. Somehow coke-snorting sexagenarians exemplify yachtie excess, pot smokin’ oldies invoke a slowed-down hippy chill while pills pop to mind a hogget ramsplainin’ life to mutton heavily lashed as springy lamb. It’s always seemed a game for young players.
Only it’s not.
Across age, profession, disposable income, intelligence, community standing and every other variable that makes each one of us human like no other, MDMA is being swallowed, snorted, boofed and bought.
When ecstasy first hit Aussie shores in the 1980s it was deeply connected to the Orange People from whose door in Bondi you’d make weekend purchases for yourself and your friends. At the time it was a highly trusted source: how can you not trust something sourced from happy orange-hued cult people, living nowhere near Jonestown? It’s the pigment of a Friday sunset pursued by that Saturday sunrise, it’s the juice you might order, and it’s the colour of the energy, warmth and joy that little pill brought.
Generally you’d take half first. It was a time of fax machines and colour photocopiers being high-tech and still mid-20s bulletproof, we loved risk not recklessness. Even though it was regularly purchased from the same, very familiar and very local supplier, chemicals and processes are not infallible.
Just ask Linda Evangelista.
In the ‘80s and 1990s dropping a whole eccy wasn’t to intensify the sensation in as much as it was to prolong the effect. Depending on how the night was turning out. You might have it later; taking any more than one would just make you throw up.
The idea, or the ability to take numerous pills over a night or weekend so der rigueur now, was simply unheard of.
Maybe that was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s way of ensuring the money and Rollers would keep rolling in – by not killing all the cashed-up eccy devotees. He himself was dead by 58, reportedly from heart failure or the after-effects of being poisoned in US jail. With this ‘spiritual elixer’ he had manufactured and distributed throughout the world, it’s not beyond the realm that his personal intake would likely have been on the high side and it bears wondering about what it may have done to his heart.
Ecstasy would already give you a really nice, glowy internal place to be and too much alcohol would muddy it like dirty gumboots across an expanse of white and woollen shag pile carpet.
At worst it was about a six-hour escapade and with hardly any alcohol involved, free tap water was becoming far too popular in nightclubs so they started selling it in bottles and charging not like a wounded bull, but rather Nubia Desert Camp to a cameleer after a hundred scorching, sandy miles.
The comedown was kind of gentle until a couple of days later when it really sort of wasn’t and proved the holy trinity of Macca’s, sofas and VCRs.
So why the continuing attraction?
Well why not, really.
MDMA results in the positive effects of euphoria, alertness, an amplification of senses, sociability, talkativeness, loss of inhibition, thrillingly improved psychomotor speed, an altering of space and time, increased libido, and memorable sex.
Like speed and crystal, ecstasy is a stimulant that speeds up central nervous system activity and causes adrenaline surges through the body. Lots of energy to talk and dance, horizontally or not, long into the night-morning.
It’s this excess of adrenaline that manifests into excessive chewing, jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Or having sex to take your mind off all that. And injuries to the soft tissue of the mouth or tongue need to be part of the negotiation of safe sex.
By far the worst of the jaw-clamping Olympics is speed – and the majority of ecstasy tablets contain a great deal of this amphetamine. Further to that is the low-level anaesthetic affect of both speed and ecstasy, which leaves users unaware of the damage they’ve caused to their jaw, TMJ, mouth, tongue or the inside of their cheeks until the drug’s worn off.
General dental hygiene takes a nose-dive too.
Some will claim taking magnesium avoids the bruxism because magnesium increases dopamine levels in the brain and relaxes muscles – which is true. But if there’s already a deficit, with the possibility of a hampered capacity to naturally make sufficient levels, then you’re not being a doctor healing thyself, you’re doctoring all reasonable knowledge of thyself and pseudo-healing by feelings, man… and badly administered doses of magnesium are not useful either.
It may never have occur to people that MDMA- triggered bruxism can become a chronic condition.
There are cases of patients grinding their teeth for up to two years after their first and only MDMA experience.
It’s common for people on MDMA to hyperextend their jaws; opening to the point of comfort can lead to dislocation, and chipped teeth aren’t out of the question either.
There’s a British Dental Journal case study in the of an 18-year-old who bit off a chunk of lower lip while on MDMA.
Another medical incident involved a young person on ecstasy, coughing up blood. Convinced of internal bleeding what was found was the heavily bitten insides of cheeks that had not been felt because of the soothing numbness that’s part of the drug’s appeal.
Recent studies have also suggested a connection between compulsive ice eating and anemia – the most common nutritional disorder worldwide, affecting 25% of the global population.
Considering there’s no iron in ice, it appears an odd link.
However, eating ice stimulates blood flow; taking the oxygen that iron normally would to the head and brain, to boost alertness and clarity.
Someone who is iron deficient is not able to effectively carry oxygen in their red blood cells.
In that sense, it’s worth asking which came first: a deficiency or ailment for which ice gnashing somehow soothes; or could ice eating be a habit that brings low-grade, chronic mouth discomfort for which party drugs bring routine relief?
Any suggestion that the safer way to manage this mouth wrecking-ball of excess adrenaline is to suck on ice cubes or icy poles most certainly didn’t the come from a dentist.
Not even a baby dentist in milk-teeth training. A Lego dentist might second it; if it was clicked together by a polar bear delerious from climate change.
Ice eating’s scientific name is pagophagia because that makes it more than just a bad habit and reason to banish someone to the other end of the house.
Along with ice, the compulsion to eat things of no nutritional value encompasses pretty much anything: hair, skin, gyprock, clay, dirt, wax, with no reason to not include Lego. Often the result of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it can be indicative of the eating disorder pica.
The ice version is one of the most damaging things you can do to your teeth. Even in comparison to Lego.
As strong as human teeth are and as hard as tooth enamel is, teeth are not meant to crunch and grind cold, cold, frozen solids of any quantity, regularity or shape.
The problem isn’t merely that ice is hard, but that it’s relentlessly cold. Ask a TCM practitioner about temperature and balanced, robust health.
When teeth experience extreme temperature change the enamel expands and contracts, causing tiny cracks and weakening the overall structure – like any hard surface exposed to the cold.
Like concrete. And glass. And metal.
Weakened tooth enamel can lead to problems of tooth sensitivity, chips and breakages of course, and a broader vulnerability to decay.
Ice isn’t good for gum tissue either. It too, contracts and can eventually lose its cellular flexibility. The numbing effect often means small abrasions and tenderness aren’t easily noticed.
Then there’s calcium malabsorbtion from a lack of vitamin D. These are the two necessities for lowering anxiety levels and muscle tension. Lack of direct sunlight on the skin is known to affect the body on a biochemical level which, curiously, can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Which seems an obvious reason for a night out on pingy disco biscuits.
MDMA stimulates a group of neurons called the raphe nuclei – which sounds as intriguing as Ralph Fiennes like King Charles III, a descendant of King James II (1633-1701). This stimulation floods our brain with feel-good serotonin, in turn decreasing dopamine production.
Typically, dopamine feeds into the basal ganglia, a group of neuron clusters necessary for motor skills. It’s why dopamine depletion affects reflexes and self-control.
The involuntary movements of Parkinson’s patients is due to dopamine deficiency, and the inability to produce it.
This serotonin-induced inhibitor of dopamine is a large part of people’s fondness for taking ecstasy. It’s also the reason SSRIs – natural antidepressant chemicals that stop neurons reabsorbing serotonin so that more of it spends more time in your brain – cause jaw clenching and grinding.
Were it all to be happening in your butt area and not your face, there’d be a tush-toned revolution.
Other psychoactive substances mixed into molly compound the increased muscle tension in the jaw. Stimulants like amphetamines, cocaine, and caffeine exascerbate the condition so if you thought it a great idea to have an espresso martini or a voddy and Red Bull.
Although almost any psychoactive substance can be (and likely has been) used for recreational purposes the Baltimore National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines the most commonly consumed party drugs since the 1970s as: flunitrazepam, LSD, ketamine, MDMA, methamphetamine, and GBH (gamma-hydroxybutyrate).
Users are often misinformed or unaware of the longer-term health-related risks with these compounds – the predominent concerns for partakers are being ripped off, and the level of contamination and adulteration.
Apparently all pill testing kits other than those used at a fixed Pill Testing Site are unreliable, and the chemical kits of the testing sites are unsuitable for application by the average Jo-Joe.
Those proclaiming ice as nowhere near as tooth-abrasive as drum full of Chupa Chups would debate ice cream over Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs as a pre-bed snack.
The hardest substance made by, and contained in the human body is by far tooth enamel – with ice, this resistence is equally met.
In the rasping of these two substances of identical in compression strength. each one breaks the other.
Which is how chewing ice puts teeth at risk. Particularly ice cubes – don’t get all thingy about the shape. Pointy, square, roundy; shapes with faces, shapes without – they’re all very hard and very cold and why you like crunching them.
It produces a most disturbing sound. Like the painful crack of the unknown, marching along a bleak and jagged trail.
As incredibly durable as it is, tooth enamel can be damaged and stripped; which means that chipping, breaking and grinding down happen much more easily with a prolonged supply of resilient ice cubes crunching and crushing against them.
The other ‘safety’ claim of the ice grinding set is that it rarely causes cuts: roundly disputed by those having unknowingly chewed their tongue or inside cheek from the biting cold of their mouth.
The bottom line is that recreational drug users don’t regard themselves as conventional drug consumers.
Many don’t experience overt addiction, but to imply that any drug taken on a regular basis is not addictive is only ever be either patently untrue, or the wish-biscuit dangling of a person who most certainly is addicted, but only on every single weekend.
Growing evidence supports the prospect of significant psychiatric consequences related to both traditional and novel consumption of psychoactive substances.
The aim of a 2020 study was to report psychiatric and clinical features of subjects admitted to a psychiatric ward in Ibiza, Spain, with a clinical diagnosis of substance abuse or intoxication.
The questionnaire was administered to a sample of hospitalised patients due to psychiatric symptoms related to the recent use of any, or many psychoactive substances.
It investigated sociodemographic factors, familiar and personal history, substance use habits, as well as general and psychopathological features.
70% were declared multiple substance users. 33% reported more than two substances. 15% used depressants, 40% stimulants users and 45% hallucinogenics. Lifetime bipolar disorders had also been diagnosed for some.
Holiday periods, festivals and holiday resorts represent periods of experimentation and an excess of substance use. Commonly reported are cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids, opioids, psilocybin and ayahuasca as part of the overall recreational escape kit.
Part-time users generally have a low willingness to stop their weekend habit and are communally inconspicuous, unlike clinically diagnosed addict populations. It’s a special segment that rarely seeks professional help in view of their, and those around them, lack of a severe problem.
From a scientific perspective it becomes much like herding cats in terms of being able to set studies and collect data. It makes it a longer and more complicated process to find what the long-term issues of recreational drug use are in terms of brain and body changes. We don’t know what we don’t know.
At least we know what it does to your teeth.
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