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Meth Mouth, Stages, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

Meth mouth is a term for the dental effects of Meth addiction. Individuals experience tooth decay, rotting gums, and other side effects. Read more about the risks of meth abuse, & treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with meth addiction.

By We Level Up | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 16, 2023

What is Meth Mouth?

Meth mouth is the tooth decay and poor dental strength that typically occur when someone is addicted to meth or methamphetamines. Meth mouth has been dubbed a “dentist’s worst nightmare,” resulting from a merger of acidic tooth decay and drug-induced physical changes with meth use. Meth mouth is frequently one of the most evident effects when someone abuses meth, alongside changing facial features and skin injury from shooting meth.

According to the Journal of American Dental Association[1], meth mouth is identified by severe tooth decay and gum disease, which often causes teeth to fall out or break. As an outcome, the teeth of chronic meth abusers are often blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, and falling apart. The extensive tooth decay in these individuals is likely due to an aggregate of drug-induced psychological and physiological damage resulting in dry mouth and long periods of poor oral hygiene.

What does meth feel like? As with many stimulants, methamphetamine is often misused in a “binge and crash” pattern. Because the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine disappear even before the drug concentration in the blood falls significantly, users try to maintain the high by taking more of the drug. In some cases, people indulge in binging, known as a “run,” preceding food and sleep while taking the drug for up to several days.

Meth slang names include:

  • Scooby
  • Rocket fuel
  • Yaba
  • Batu
  • Hot ice
  • Poor man’s cocaine (crystal meth)
  • White cross
  • Glass
  • Chalk
  • Pookie
  • Christina
  • Croak
  • Tweak
  • Crank
  • Speed
  • Cotton candy
  • Trash
  • Garbage
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Meth mouth is the dental effects of meth abuse. Individuals experience tooth decay, rotting gums and other side effects that can worsen overtime.
Meth mouth pics: meth mouth is the dental effect of meth abuse. Individuals experience tooth decay, rotting gums, and other side effects that can worsen over time.

Causes of Meth Mouth

An individual may develop meth mouth for many reasons. [3] For many people addicted to meth, poor dental health, poor nutrition habits, and lack of regular dental maintenance can be factors. Poor overall hygiene can result from forgetting to brush your teeth or combining sugary foods with meth use. Typically, somebody abusing meth maintains a poor diet and seeks out sodas and sweets – commonly called buzzing — further destroying their enamel. Crystal meth smoke and eating sugary foods also contribute to cavities. Untreated cavities can lead to nerve damage, tooth damage, and abscesses in the mouth.

Dental hygiene may also seem unimportant if an individual focuses on maintaining their addiction. However, the body’s ability to heal itself is impaired without eating the proper nutrients (such as Vitamin C or Iron). As a result, somebody with meth mouths can endure extreme pain because of lesions or abscesses that cannot heal fully. Moreover, people may erode their teeth from grinding due to stimulation from meth.

Dental hygiene may also seem unimportant if an individual focuses on maintaining their addiction. However, the body’s ability to heal itself is impaired without eating the proper nutrients (such as Vitamin C or Iron). As a result, somebody with meth mouths can endure extreme pain because of lesions or abscesses that cannot heal fully. Moreover, people may erode their teeth from grinding due to stimulation from meth.

Chipped teeth exhibited by meth mouth occur from teeth-grinding while high. The acidic components of meth erode and weaken teeth, making them easier to break. Chemicals in meth, like battery acid, drain cleaner, antifreeze, and lantern fluid, destroy the body, corrupting the mouth as they are too harsh for human consumption.

Another factor of meth mouth that occurs is xerostomia or intense dry mouth. Meth “dries out the salvia glands,” allowing the mouth to produce more bacteria and, eventually, rotting the teeth. This can eventually lead to gum decay.

Meth Mouth Pictures

Meth reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth. Meth users consume excess sugared, carbonated soft drinks, tend to neglect personal hygiene, grind their teeth and clench their jaws, leading to what is commonly called “meth mouth.” Teeth can eventually fall out of users’ mouths—even as they do simple things like eating a sandwich.

Meth Mouth Teeth Pictures

Meth mouth images: Methamphetamine (meth) is a dangerously addictive drug that can have severe health consequences, one of which is "meth mouth."
Meth mouth images: Methamphetamine (meth) is a dangerously addictive drug that can have severe health consequences, one of which is “meth mouth.”
Meth mouth images: The teeth of people addicted to methamphetamines are blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, and falling apart.
Meth mouth images: The teeth of people addicted to methamphetamines are blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, and falling apart. 
Meth mouth images:: Meth addiction can start to take over a person’s life in a very short period of time. Meth addiction photos of "meth Mouth" show how meth drugs can also cause physical adverse effects.
Meth mouth images:: Meth addiction can start to take over a person’s life in a very short period of time. Meth addiction photos of “meth Mouth” (pics of meth mouth) show how meth drugs can also cause physical adverse effects.
Images of meth mouth:  If Meth addiction is continued over a long period of time, the brain begins to rely on its effects and creates a need for its use.  Photos of meth addicts, meth addict images, and meth mouth also portray its physical hazard effects.
Images of meth mouth: If Meth addiction is continued over a long period of time, the brain begins to rely on its effects and creates a need for its use.  Photos of meth addicts, meth addict images, and meth mouth also portray its physical hazard effects.

Images of Meth Mouth: https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/methawareness/

Methamphetamine Drug Facts

Across the world, methamphetamine use as a recreational drug has increased significantly since the 1990s, and it is reported as the second most widely misused substance, exceeded only by cannabis.

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and a currently accepted medical use (in FDA-approved products).

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal meth, crystal, tina, or crank, is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, producing feelings of euphoria and increased energy. It is normally in the form of a white powder that has no smell and tastes bitter. Methamphetamine can also appear in a semi-transparent crystallized form, or in pill form made from compressed powder.

Methamphetamine Drug Fact Sheet Made Publicly Available by the DEA

Meth Abuse Statistics

There are about 24.7 million amphetamine-type stimulant abusers worldwide. In 2018, these figures continued to increase. There are about 24.7 million amphetamine-type stimulant abusers worldwide. In 2018, these figures continued to grow.


2.6 million

Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 0.9% (or about 2.6 million people) reported using methamphetamine in the past 12 months.

Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

1.5 million

Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, an estimated 0.6% (or about 1.5 million people) had a methamphetamine use disorder in the past 12 months.

Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

23,837

40–
In 2020, approximately 23,837 people died from an overdose involving psychostimulants with abuse potential other than cocaine (primarily methamphetamine).

Source: CDC


Meth Mouth Signs

Crystal meth is not merely a “poor man’s drug,” as often thought. In reality, drug users come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, including those who live in middle-class suburbs and are quite powerful and wealthy. Find out more about the signs of a high-functioning meth addict. Another effect is “meth mouth,” defined as serious tooth and oral health damage after long-standing meth abuse. Signs of meth mouth include:

  • Bad breath
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching)
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Lockjaw
  • Gum disease, gingivitis, and periodontitis
  • Carious lesions (micro-cavities)
  • Cracked teeth, loose teeth, or missing teeth
  • Black rotting teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Carious lesions (micro-cavities)

Meth Mouth Symptoms

“Meth mouth” is a common consequence of chronic methamphetamine (METH) use, resulting in tooth decay and painful oral tissue inflammation that can progress to complete tooth loss. The following explains the symptoms of meth mouth:

  • Dry Mouth: Saliva acts as a buffer in the mouth against acidic substances we may eat or drink. The average person creates about one liter of saliva a day. When saliva production is reduced, the number of oral bacteria can increase. Methamphetamines dry out the salivary glands. When we do not have sufficient saliva, the acid content in our mouth will damage the enamel on the teeth. Ultimately, this will lead to cavities.
  • Cracked Teeth: Methamphetamine can make users feel afraid, hyper, or nervous to clench or sharpen their teeth. You may see severe wear patterns on their teeth. Seldom even biting or chewing soft foods, like mashed potatoes, will cause their teeth to break. Meth users will suck on lollipops or pacifiers to help stop them from grinding. [2]
  • Tooth Decay: Meth users crave beverages high in sugar but are “high” mainly because they encounter dry mouth. The bacteria that feed on the sugars in the mouth will secrete acid, leading to more tooth destruction. With meth users, tooth decay will start at the gum line and spread throughout the tooth. The front teeth are usually destroyed first. 
  • Gum Disease: Methamphetamine users do not seek out the regular dental treatment. Lack of oral health care can contribute to periodontal disease (destruction of the bone that supports the teeth). Teeth and gums need blood to stay healthy. Methamphetamines cause the vessels that supply blood to oral tissues to shrink. A reduction in blood flow will cause the tissues to break down. Over time the blood flow can not recover, and the tissue will become necrotic. 
  • Lesions: Users who smoke meth present with lesions and or/burns on their lips, gingival, cheeks, or hard palate. Users who snort may present burns in the back of their throats. Meth use decreases a person’s ability to fight infection and heal after damage. 
  • Deferred Pain: The meth user does not experience the pain expected from such extensive decay because meth can block or lessen the effects of dental pain. The sufferer may use their extensive decay to obtain prescription pain medications. 

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When someone struggles with a meth addiction, a critical part of the detox process is getting meth out of your system. A common question during the detox process is, “how long does meth stay in your system?”
When someone struggles with a meth addiction, a critical part of the detox process is getting meth out of your system. A common question during the detox process is, “how long does meth stay in your system?”

Embed the above “How Long Does A Meth High Last?” Infographic to your Website

This How Long Does A Meth Stay High Last infographic is provided with compliments of the We Level Up addiction treatment center team. To use the above infographics, you agree to link back and attribute its source and owner at https://welevelup.com/addiction/how-long-does-meth-stay-in-your-system.

How Long Does A Meth Stay High Last infographic image link: https://welevelup.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/How-Long-Does-Meth-Stay-in-Your-System.jpg

Meth Mouth Pictures

Meth reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth. Meth users consume excess sugared, carbonated soft drinks, tend to neglect personal hygiene, grind their teeth and clench their jaws, leading to what is commonly called “meth mouth.” Teeth can eventually fall out of users’ mouths—even as they do simple things like eating a sandwich.

Meth Mouth Teeth Pictures

Meth mouth images: Methamphetamine (meth) is a dangerously addictive drug that can have severe health consequences, one of which is "meth mouth."
Meth mouth images: Methamphetamine (meth) is a dangerously addictive drug that can have severe health consequences, one of which is “meth mouth.”
Meth mouth images: The teeth of people addicted to methamphetamines are blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, and falling apart.
Meth mouth images: The teeth of people addicted to methamphetamines are blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, and falling apart. 
Meth mouth images:: Meth addiction can start to take over a person’s life in a very short period of time. Meth addiction photos of "meth Mouth" show how meth drugs can also cause physical adverse effects.
Meth mouth images:: Meth addiction can start to take over a person’s life in a very short period of time. Meth addiction photos of “meth Mouth” (pics of meth mouth) show how meth drugs can also cause physical adverse effects.
Images of meth mouth:  If Meth addiction is continued over a long period of time, the brain begins to rely on its effects and creates a need for its use.  Photos of meth addicts, meth addict images, and meth mouth also portray its physical hazard effects.
Images of meth mouth: If Meth addiction is continued over a long period of time, the brain begins to rely on its effects and creates a need for its use.  Photos of meth addicts, meth addict images, and meth mouth also portray its physical hazard effects.

Images of Meth Mouth: https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/methawareness/

What Does Meth Mouth Look Like?

Even though the early signs of meth mouth might not be obvious, persistent meth use can negatively affect a person’s oral and dental health. Meth mouth is just one of several negative side effects caused by methamphetamine drug addiction. Meth addiction treatment can help to repair or alleviate this harm.

Tonsils, the lips, and the tongue are frequently affected as meth mouth worsens. Exposure to meth frequently results in lasting and irreparable harm. The advancement of these problems can be slowed down by treating the drug addiction disease.

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How Mouth Meth Affects the Rest of the Body?

Meth mouth can severely harm an individual’s overall health, affecting the entire body. In addition to blood-borne infections from bacteria and open wounds in the mouth, meth abuse can also cause:

  • Premature delivery
  • Hyperthermia
  • Convulsions
  • Heart problems
  • Risk for HIV and hepatitis
  • Lead poisoning
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Meth mite itching (itching caused by nerve sensitivity)

There are significant psychological effects caused by meth abuse, like paranoia and aggression, that can affect the quality of life in the individual. Furthermore, meth abuse produces life-threatening health problems that should be treated immediately.

Meth mouth is a troubling and stigmatizing way of describing the dental problems that the public and media associate with methamphetamine use.
Meth mouth is a troubling and stigmatizing way of describing the dental problems that the public and media have been associating with methamphetamine use.

Chronic meth abuse commonly leads to psychosis, with positive and cognitive symptoms similar to schizophrenia. [4] Methamphetamine is a compound (amphetamines and derivatives) used recreationally for its ability to induce a variety of desirable effects, including:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Positive mood
  • Euphoria
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Enhanced mental acuity
  • Social and sexual disinhibition

According to the United Nations World Drug Report, 0.3 and 1.3% of the world’s population uses amphetamine-type stimulants. Amphetamine abuse has many repercussions, including violence, criminal behavior, incarceration, recidivism, and the transmission of HIV. Repeated administrations, or administration of high doses of methamphetamine, commonly lead to psychosis, where symptoms typically include paranoid delusions, auditory hallucinations, increased activity, and odd speech. [5]

Crystal meth causes an overflow of dopamine in the striatum, which leads to excessive glutamate release into the cortex. Excess glutamate in the cortex might, over time, cause damage to cortical interneurons. Damage to cortical interneurons dysregulates thalamocortical signals and might present psychotic symptoms, as seen in schizophrenia. [6] Find out more about the signs and schizophrenia treatment.

The adverse effects of meth addiction include:

  • Meth users’ body temperatures can increase to such extreme levels that they risk passing out or dying.
  • Side effects of smoking crystal meth include mood changes, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and violent outbursts.
  • Looks can drastically change. A user might age rapidly. They could have dull skin and get pimples and ulcers that are difficult to heal. They could have decaying, damaged, or discolored teeth and a dry meth mouth. The heart can be impacted by meth. Lung damage may result from continued meth usage.
  • Meth users could develop paranoia. They could perceive and hear unreal things. They could consider harming themselves or other people. Additionally, they could have bug bites on or under their skin.
  • Meth users are more likely to get HIV and AIDS. The substance may impair judgment and lower inhibitions. When using the drug, a person may be more prone to participate in harmful activities, such as unsafe sex.

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Treatment for Meth Mouth

The mainstay of treatment for the problems associated with chronic methamphetamine abuse is abstinence. However, by recognizing the manifestations of chronic abuse, clinicians will be better able to help their patients get treatment for their addiction and deal with the neurologic complications related to regular abuse.

How long does meth stay in your system? If you are addicted to drugs such as crystal meth, your first step in recovery should be a methamphetamine detox in a safe and medically supervised setting.  That is why We Level Up is here for you.  We Level Up detox center medically assists patients in clearing their systems of addictive substances, such as alcohol and addictive substances.

For anyone who suffers from addiction, we know that just the thought of having to stop using can cause severe mental distress. Inpatient rehab will help you manage the medical detox process.

The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction at this point are behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral and contingency management interventions. For example, the Matrix Model—a 16-week comprehensive behavioral treatment approach that combines behavioral therapy, family education, individual counseling, 12-step support, drug testing, and encouragement for non-drug-related activities—effectively reduces methamphetamine misuse.

Although medications have proven effective in treating some substance use disorders, there are currently no medications that counteract the specific effects of methamphetamine or prolong abstinence from and reduce the misuse of methamphetamine by an individual addicted to the drug.

Medically-Assisted Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of meth withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

How long does crystal meth stay in your system? Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give the necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.

Psychotherapy 

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with crystal meth addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – An effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. Cognitive behavior therapy has been evaluated as particularly effective for treating Methamphetamine addiction and co-occurring disorders of depression and anxiety.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – A comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – A strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution-Focused Therapy – An approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both conditions done by the same team or provider.

We Level Up thorough approach to rehabilitation supports several levels of care to ensure the best possible outcome for every patient who enters our doors.  From an intensive and more supportive atmosphere for those in the early days of recovery to a comfortable residential-style living dynamic upon completion of detox, We Level Up is here to help guide you down the safe, medication-assisted treatment and results-based path to sobriety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with meth abuse and developing a “meth mouth,” call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation. The We Level Up treatment center network offers nationwide facilities to choose from. Connect with one of our rehab specialists.

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