What Meth Does to Your Teeth

Have you ever wondered what meth does to you physically? While there are many harmful physical effects of using meth, one of the most well known is “meth mouth.”

What Is “Meth Mouth”?

“Meth mouth” occurs when a person’s teeth become severely decayed and broken as a result of repeated meth use. Individuals who develop “meth mouth” suffer from lesions in the mouth, lip burns, cracked teeth, severe gum disease and dry mouth. A research study in the Journal of the American Dental Association examined the teeth of 571 meth users. The researchers found that 96% of the participants had holes in their teeth (cavities) or other surface damage. The meth users in the study were twice as likely to suffer from tooth decay compared with the general population. Also, only 23% of the meth users had all of their natural teeth and more than a third expressed concern or embarrassment about the appearance of their teeth.

How Does Using Meth Cause “Meth Mouth”?

Meth is a highly acidic substance, which destroys the tooth’s structure. Smoking meth also causes the mouth to dry out, reducing saliva and healthy bacteria in the mouth that protect teeth. Many meth users compulsively grind their teeth while high or when going through withdrawal, which can erode and crack their teeth. Dentists also say that meth users are more likely to consume large quantities of high-calorie and high-sugar foods due to meth’s effects on metabolism, which can also exacerbate tooth decay.

Who Is Most at Risk for “Meth Mouth”?

Meth users who describe their meth use as either “moderate” or “heavy” are most likely to suffer from meth mouth than occasional meth users. However, research has shown that women and cigarette smokers are more likely to develop “meth mouth”, although it is unclear why this pattern exists. As if you needed another reason to worry about the effects of meth or seek treatment for your meth addiction, “meth mouth” is a constellation of problems that culminate in an unsightly and painful dental situation.   Sources: “Methamphetamine Use and Oral Health” – American Dental Association https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/patient_55.ashx “Meth Mouth: Some Ugly Numbers” – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Teens https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/meth-mouth-some-ugly-numbers “Dental Disease Patterns In Methamphetamine Users” –  Journal of the American Dental Association https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177%2815%2900977-0/abstract

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