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Meth Mouth – What You Need To Know

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

March 25, 2019

Meth mouth is one of the most common and noticeable consequences of methamphetamine abuse. Seeking treatment for meth addiction can help prevent further damage to the mouth.

Meth is a dangerous and highly addictive stimulant that can wreak havoc on a person’s mental and physical health. One common attribute of a chronic meth user is something known as “meth mouth.”

Methamphetamine, also referred to as crystal meth, speed, chalk, and ice, is illegal to use without a prescription in the United States. Many people who use this substance report feeling increased confidence, focus, and energy.

While meth may certainly produce a number of positive feelings, its negative effects far outweigh the pleasurable aspects of using this drug.

What Is Meth Mouth?

“Meth mouth” is a condition that refers to severe tooth decay and gum disease. This condition can often result in teeth breaking or falling out.

People who are addicted to meth may have teeth that are crumbling, stained, rotting, or blackened. Most individuals will need to have the teeth removed.

Studies have shown that meth mouth is a common phenomenon among methamphetamine users. In fact, one examination of 571 people using methamphetamine showed that 96 percent had cavities, 58 percent had tooth decay, and 31 percent have six or more missing teeth.

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What Causes Meth Mouth?

Many drugs, when abused, can wreak havoc on a person’s dental hygiene. Methamphetamine is at the top of the list for these substances that negatively impact teeth and gums.

The tooth decay seen in meth mouth is believed to be caused by a number of psychological and physical effects of the drug. This includes the dry mouth that often accompanies meth use as well as poor dental hygiene exhibited by many meth users.

Other causes of meth mouth may include:

  • limited blood supply to the mouth
  • decayed mouth tissue
  • poor nutritional choices
  • teeth grinding
  • dehydration
  • reduced saliva in the mouth
  • the chemicals often found in methamphetamine

People who abuse meth for an extended period of time are likely to develop meth mouth to some degree. In fact, people can begin to experience meth mouth symptoms as soon as six months of ongoing meth use. The more meth a person uses, the more severe this condition will be.

Side Effects Of Meth Mouth

Meth mouth can result in a number of negative consequences for a person’s overall health. The more meth a person uses, the more likely he or she is to experience these adverse side effects of meth mouth.

Health conditions often seen as a result of meth mouth include:

  • periodontitis
  • oral cancer
  • teeth loss
  • extreme tooth decay and cavities
  • gum disease
  • severe mouth pain

Each of these conditions can have a significant impact on someone’s health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, the consequences of meth abuse on the meth are nearly always irreversible.

Meth Mouth Treatment

Most people who abuse meth will not seek treatment for oral problems unless they are actively trying to overcome meth addiction. What’s more, many dentists will not treat a meth addicted person until he or she has given up the drug.

When a person addicted to meth decides to get dental treatment for the damage done by meth mouth, extensive harm has likely already been done to the teeth and gums. However, there are some dentists that specialize in helping people recover from oral damage experienced as a result of drug abuse.

Common treatment for meth mouth may include:

  • crowns
  • dentures
  • dental implants
  • gum treatments
  • teeth extraction

Other restorative measures may be taken to help a person recover from meth mouth. While often costly and extensive, treatment is available for those wish to address dental damage done by methamphetamine.

Meth Abuse And Addiction Treatment Options

Meth mouth is just one of the many detrimental effects that result from chronic meth abuse. Methamphetamine addiction can impact every aspect of a person’s life and have dangerous and deadly consequences. Treatment is the best way to avoid these consequences and overcome addiction to methamphetamine.

Most people who are addicted to meth will require a formal treatment program to overcome their addiction. Meth is a powerful drug and can result in severe physical dependence, making it incredibly hard to stop using on one’s own.

A medically monitored detox program is often the first step for those wishing to overcome meth addiction. Once someone has completely withdrawn from the drug, he or she will likely be recommended to attend an intensive inpatient program for several weeks or months.

To learn more about meth mouth and treatment options for meth addiction, contact our specialists today.

Mouth Healthy - Meth Mouth: How Methamphetamine Use Affects Dental Health

UCLA - UCLA study clarifies the oral consequences of methamphetamine abuse

Meth Project - What is “meth mouth”?

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