Researchers at Boston University recently found that the majority of individuals with substance dependence problems report having poor oral health. This finding came as no surprise to Phoenix House Dental Director Tyler Grosso, DDS. Grosso’s team, which includes an oral surgeon and nine dentists, provides a full array of dental services to clients across our New York treatment programs.
“A common misconception is that drugs cause dental damage,” says Dr. Grosso, “but in reality, only meth has a corrosive effect.” Often, he explains, the real problem is that people who struggle with addiction neglect their oral hygiene. For this reason, Phoenix House’s Dental Department, which receives about four hundreds visits a week, makes it a priority not only to address dental problems, but also, to educate clients about the importance of dental care. “There are a number of factors that affect your teeth, but oral hygiene is something you can control,” he says. “We teach clients that they shouldn’t wait till a tooth hurts to go to the dentist.”
In addition to addressing problems such as cavities and periodontal disease, Grosso sees Phoenix House’s dental services as a way to help clients boost their self-esteem. “Taking pride in your appearance is part of the way-of-life change that recovery brings,” he says. “We’ve had people come back, give us hugs, and tell us that they got a job because they were able to smile during an interview.” For Grosso, who also maintains a private practice as well as joining Phoenix House seven years ago, working with people in recovery is challenging, but rewarding: “Addiction has touched my family and this is my way of giving back.”Back to Index