Meth mouth – maybe you haven’t heard about this yet. It is a distinctive physical result of someone using methamphetamine heavily. Teeth become weak, discolored, and break or fall out. The damage can range from mild discoloration and gum irritation to teeth that look black and rotted. Current dental research has looked at this very specific oral disease and how it can affect meth users down the road.
Causes of Meth Mouth
Some of the damage also results from a meth user’s general decline in oral hygiene. According to a Meth Awareness and Prevention Project of South Dakota website, meth mouth is caused by both the ingredients in meth and the method of use.
Many of the key ingredients in meth are corrosive and toxic, which can easily erode tooth enamel when smoked or inhaled. Also, meth users often consume lots of sugary drinks leading to increased chances of tooth decay. Meth dries out saliva glands, leaving bacteria free to grow and teeth unprotected against acidic substances.
Long Term Dental Problems
When meth mouth amounts to mild gingivitis (gum disease), the effects can usually be reversed when a person immediately stops their drug use. Unfortunately, this symptom of meth use often goes on past the reversible point as the person uses the drug more heavily. And in many cases, users miss regular dental checkups when they are living a drug lifestyle.
Meth users also have a generally higher level of oral disease and dental problems than other healthy people of the same age. This could prove to be problematic for even a recovering meth user who has been through drug treatment. They must be extra vigilant about their dental health and vulnerability to oral disease throughout their life.
Meth Detection Could Improve With Dentists Involvement
Meth can be so quickly addictive and so much physical damage can occur to a person’s entire body in a relatively short time. Also, many meth users have a very challenging time getting and staying sober. However, dentists could prove to be significant players in early detection of meth use. They might be another clinical connection between meth users and drug treatment programs. This may be motivating for users ready to give up the drug lifestyle and prevent further identifiable dental damage.