The Effects of Methamphetamine use on Dental Health

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Blog Highlights:

  • Meth is a widely used drug that can cause serious health problems
  • Meth users typically suffer from severe gum disease and tooth decay
  • Tooth decay and gum disease in meth users are caused by dry mouth and the lack of oral hygiene
  • Meth users can experience intense pleasure from the drug but they can also suffer from short term or long term health problems
  • Methamphetamine addicts typically have rotten, blackened and severely damaged teeth
  • Many of the meth addict’s teeth are damaged beyond repair

Methamphetamine or Meth is a highly addictive drug that can cause serious health conditions. This illegal drug can cause permanent brain damage, stroke, and it can also severely affect your dental health. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association in their December 2015 issue, the use of meth can cause “meth mouth”. Meth mouth is a condition characterized by severe gum disease and tooth decay which will eventually cause teeth to fall off or break. During the examination of the mouths of 571 meth users, dentists were able to discover the following:

  • More than 30% had six or more missing teeth
  • As much as 58% had untreated tooth decay
  • Almost 100% of them had cavities

People who are addicted to methamphetamine have teeth which are typically characterized as rotten, blackened, falling apart and crumbling. As a matter of fact, they are usually damaged beyond repair and they have to be taken out. This type of damage comes as a result of drug-induced psychological and physiological changes that lead to dry mouth as well as extended periods of poor oral hygiene. Methamphetamine is also very acidic and it can easily corrode teeth.

Methamphetamine is also known by its street names like ice, glass, speed, and crystal. This drug is typically smoked but it can be injected, snorted or taken orally as a pill. The high can last for as long as 12 hours, and it can actually cause the brain to feel intense pleasure. Users can suffer from teeth grinding or clenching and they often want to consume high calorie, sugary, and carbonated drinks afterwards.

The short term effects of meth include breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, insomnia, hyperactivity, decreased appetite and tremors. Continued use of meth can lead to high blood pressure, violent behavior, anxiety, irregular heartbeats, stroke, paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Long term effects include the decreased ability to learn.

Although data shows that meth users have declined in number nationwide, there are still certain areas of the country like the West and the Midwest who still have high numbers. In 2012, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that as much as 1.2 million people stated that they had used meth in the last 12 months and as much as 440,000 used it within the past 4 weeks.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with methamphetamine addiction, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for assistance, or you can look for treatment online.