ABCs of Meth mouth

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Methamphetamine is a strong stimulant drug and is known by alternate street names – meth, speed, ice, crank, crystal and quartz. It is a strong stimulant drug that is being considered as the cocaine of the poor man; production and use of this drug has been causing many problems in US. Use of this drug might cause serious problems to your teeth and mouth.

Meth causes faster and very bad tooth decay and it may not be possible to save the teeth but requires extraction. The term – Meth Mouth – is used for describing the mouth of a person who uses methamphetamine because this dangerous drug causes rampant tooth decay. Some dentists compare meth mouth with bottle mouth or baby bottle tooth decay.

This FAQ gives details of meth mouth.

What is meth mouth?

If a person’s teeth decay at a faster rate it could result in Meth mouth and it normally happens in persons who use meth. The teeth of such persons become very black and highly stained and they appear rotten and are likely to fall any moment.

Whenever there is a normal decay in a person it occurs at the back of his mouth as well as in the teeth grooves. This is mainly because of the fact that these surfaces are difficult to clean. On the other hand the tooth decay of a meth user occurs on his front teeth and also along the gum line surfaces that are relatively easy to clean. The rate of tooth decay in a meth user is much faster than that in a non-meth user.

How does Meth cause Damage to Your Mouth?

The drug, methamphetamine produces the ‘high’ on the user and when he is on high the user craves for sugary carbonated beverages and this is responsible for tooth decay. Normally the high from the drug lasts for a period of 12 hours and during this period the user is unlikely to brush or floss. This means that the sugary substances last for a long period in the user’s mouth thereby allowing conditions congenial for plaque development and decay. Further, persons using this drug tend to grind/ clench their teeth.

History of Meth mouth

The name meth mouth was coined during the period 2004-2005. This was a major problem for corrections personnel who were responsible for processing new inmates for the city jail. The rampant tooth decay has been in existence much earlier to the year 2004 in these people; however it was found that there has been a sharp increase in the people having rampant caries. In addition it was also seen that that many of these people had rampant caries and ANUG as compared to earlier years. On further examination it was found that these people having combination of rampant caries and ANUG were addicts of methamphetamine.

What are the effects of Methamphetamines on human body?

Methamphetamines are categorized as central nervous system stimulants and they have the same effects that cocaine, ecstasy, PCP and other drugs in terms of stimulation. This drug is called by different names – meth, ice, speed etc. and is highly addictive.

This causes the following side effects on your body.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of meth mouth?

The symptoms are felt by the patient whereas the signs are those noticed by the Doctor.

The symptoms are as follows.

The signs are as follows.

Can nonusers of meth get meth mouth?

Normally people associate meth mouth with methamphetamines addiction. This is not true. Meth mouth can also occur with increase in stress, poor oral health maintenance, poor nutrition and high intake of sugar. Both users and non-users of meth may or may not get meth mouth and this is mainly because of the fact that meth mouth is caused by improper oral hygiene and not by the toxic chemicals of the drug.

However, meth users suffer from the following disadvantages.

The probability of getting meth mouth decreases for a meth user provided he/ she maintains a good oral hygiene by proper brushing and flossing and also avoids taking sugary drinks. Meth addicts are susceptible for getting dry mouth – Xerostomia - that will cause dental decay, erosion of enamel and periodontal disease.

How do you treat meth mouth?

Treatment for meth mouth depends on the present teeth conditions of the meth user. If the problem is attended to on time it is possible to save some of the teeth. However, in practice such people go to the dentist only when the damage done is severe thereby necessitating teeth extraction and partial/ complete dentures.

If a meth user is anxious about the condition of his mouth he must take treatment for meth addiction before attempting to take treatment for the mouth. Persons using meth will be affected by dry mouth making them drink more and more fluids. Under such circumstances they should drink more of water and avoid drinking sugary carbonated beverages.

It is possible to reduce the progression rate of meth mouth if you practice good dental hygiene – brushing, flossing and rinsing with fluoridated mouthwash and frequent professional cleaning.

Related Links

ANUG | Bad breath | Bruxism | Dry Mouth | plaque | Saliva | TMJ | teeth decay | Tooth Wear

Slide Show Links

Mouth Problems | Root Canal Treatment | Dental Abscess - An animation | Periapical and Periodontal Abscess