Methamphetamine is a dangerous and highly addictive drug that can cause serious physical damage inside and out, including meth mouth.
What Is Meth Mouth? Meth mouth is a severe tooth and gum problem from prolonged methamphetamine abuse. It is a common occurrence in long-term meth users and results in noticeable dental issues. Meth mouth may include rotting and missing teeth as well as several cavities and gum infections. A study on meth users found that 96% had cavities and 58% had untreated tooth decay. It was also found that only 23% of the users had all of their natural teeth compared to the general population at 48%.1
What Causes Meth Mouth? In general, drugs can have devastating effects on a person’s physical health as well as their physical appearance, especially when abused for a long period of time. In particular, the physical effects of meth abuse are often more noticeable than other drugs as meth can cause everything from sores to meth mouth.
Meth mouth is the result of prolonged methamphetamine abuse, but why are the meth effects on teeth and the mouth so severe compared to other drugs? Many researchers believe that meth mouth is the result of both damage from common side effects of meth use as well as the neglect of dental hygiene.
One of the many symptoms of meth use is dry mouth or xerostomia. Dry mouth is reduced saliva flow and production in the mouth. Because saliva helps protect teeth by neutralizing acids and limiting bacteria growth, frequent dry mouth may be a large contributing factor for meth mouth.2 Along with dry mouth, many meth addicts grind their teeth when under the drug’s influence. Continued teeth grinding can cause teeth problems such as chipped teeth, loose teeth, and worn enamel.3
Along with the damage done by the dry mouth and teeth grinding, many drug addicts come to neglect basic hygiene practices including their dental hygiene. Because meth has become the controlling factor in their life, they may not take care of themselves or not visit the dentist regularly as they should. Many meth addicts may also have an unhealthy diet that lacks the proper nutrients they need and instead is filled with sugary foods. All of these factors will only make their dental problems worse.