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“Meth Mouth”: What Are the Oral Consequences of Methamphetamine Use?


Meth Mouth

A stimulant drug that is a white, bitter-tasting powder, methamphetamine (also known as “meth”), is estimated to be used by nearly 1.2 million people in the United States each year. Besides addiction and withdrawal symptoms, chronic use of meth can lead to significant anxiety and confusion, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions, and more. Research has shown that meth can cause reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning, as well as severe structural and functional changes in the brain related to emotion and memory. Physical effects of long-term meth use include weight loss, skin sores, dry mouth, and what is commonly called “meth mouth”. Meth mouth often refers to the severe tooth decay that many people with methamphetamine addiction experience.

The largest study of methamphetamine users to date, researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program investigated the patterns and severity of dental diseases in 571 methamphetamine abusers. Over 96% of the users studied had dental cavities, and 58% of users had untreated tooth decay. Only 23% retained all of their natural teeth. The study’s results also concluded that women were more at risk for significant tooth loss and decay, as well as a more significant prevalence of cavities in the front teeth. Periodontitis, a serious gum infection that can cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss, was found in 89% of the participants. The researchers concluded that methamphetamine users who were older, African American, and/or cigarette smokers at an elevated risk for having severe periodontitis.

As you can see, methamphetamine use has significant consequences in several aspects of one’s life. When it comes to oral hygiene, the most common result of significant tooth damage from meth use is getting the damaged teeth removed and getting dentures placed in. If you have been struggling with methamphetamine addiction, make the decision to seek help today. If treatment is sought early enough, developmental damage to the brain can be prevented. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.