Meth Mouth

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” and is the result of a merger of “acidic tooth decay and drug-induced physical changes that happen with meth use.” Meth mouth is frequently one of the most apparent physical changes when someone abuses meth, alongside changing facial features and skin injury from shooting meth.

This also includes avoiding substances like methamphetamine that can threaten the health and functionality of your teeth due to meth mouth.
Avoid substances like methamphetamine that can threaten the health and functionality of your teeth due to meth mouth.

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 hygienic.

Meth Mouth Signs

  • 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

  • Dry Mouth: Saliva acts as a buffer in the mouth against acidic substances that 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[2]. 
  • 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 while they 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 ultimately 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 in size. 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, inside 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 try to obtain prescription pain medications. 

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 teeth or combining sugary foods with meth use. Typically, somebody abusing meth maintain poor diets and seek out sodas and sweets – commonly called buzzing — further destroying their enamel. Smoking meth and eating sugary foods also contribute to cavities. Untreated cavities can lead to nerve damage, tooth damage, and abscesses in the mouth.

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 is the dental effect of meth abuse. Individuals experience tooth decay, rotting gums, and other side effects that can worsen over time.

Additionally, dental hygiene may seem unimportant if an individual is focusing on maintaining their addiction. However, without eating the proper nutrients (such as Vitamin C or Iron), the body’s ability to heal itself is impaired. As a result, somebody with meth mouths can endure extreme pain because of lesions or abscesses that cannot heal fully. In addition, 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. In addition, chemicals found 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.

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-born 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)
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 associated with methamphetamine use.

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

Treatment For Meth Mouth

Meth is a highly addictive substance, and nearly 5% of the American population has tried meth at least once. In recent years, meth abuse has become more widespread in rural areas in the US. As of 2017, there were 1.6 million individuals who used meth. Meth mouth is just one of the side effects of meth abuse that needs attention. In many, if not most, cases, teeth impacted by meth mouth must be removed, but dental procedures may be able to correct some of the issues caused by meth mouth. However, even this difficulty is minor if the individual cannot stop abusing drugs.

Detox is a suggested treatment option to get the body to a meth-free state. The individual could have a higher chance of recovery within the care of a medical professional. Therapists, nurses, doctors, and staff will supervise clients seeking recovery and support their transition to sobriety with addiction treatment medications and therapy. Following inpatient or outpatient rehab, there are also support groups to focus on continued sobriety.

At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing information about mouth meth and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

Sources

[1] Journal of American Dental Association – https://jada.ada.org/action/doSearch?text1=meth+mouth&field1=AllField

[2] Maine.gov- https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/odh/documents/meth-mouth.pdf

[3] MedlinePlus.gov – https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001055.htm

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