Meth Mouth

October 3, 2005

Methamphetamine is an illegal drug that stimulates the central nervous system. By altering chemical communication in the brain, methamphetamine can produce feelings of pleasure. However, these feelings come with a price. Hyperthemia (increased body temperature) and convulsions caused by the drug can kill users. Small doses of methamphetamine can also injure the brain by damaging nerve cells that use the neurotransmitter dopamine. Problems connected to methamphetamine addiction are major concerns for many big cities and small communities.

A lesser known problem of methamphetamine use is damage to the mouth. Dentists have noticed that methamphetamine can have devastating effects on the teeth of users. In fact, some dentists refer to these symptoms of methamphetamine use as "meth mouth."

Meth Mouth

People with meth mouth have many cavities in their teeth or may actually lose their teeth. Methamphetamine may cause these tooth problems because the drug:
  • causes dry mouth (lack of saliva). This leads to increased levels of bacteria in the mouth that may cause tooth wear and cavities.
  • causes users to crave high calorie drinks loaded with sugar.
  • causes tooth grinding that may crack the teeth.
  • reduces blood flow to the gums causing tissue disease.
  • makes users neglect personal hygiene and forget about proper tooth care (brushing and flossing).

For more information about methamphetamines, see:
  1. Richards, J.R. and Brofeldt, B.T., Patterns of tooth wear associated with methamphetamine use. J. Periodontol., 71:1371-1374, 2000.
  2. Spotting Meth Mouth - Amercian Dental Association
  3. Methamphetamine Abuse from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  4. Methamphetamine May Cause Long-Lasting Brain Damage

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