Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a strong, highly-addictive street drug that affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine is characterized by a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that dissolves easily when in contact with water and alcohol.
According to the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II stimulant, making this drug legally available only through a nonrefillable prescription. Methamphetamine is considered an addictive substance and can cause many negative health effects, including challenges with oral health.
How Does Meth Affect the Body?
Meth is known to affect the body in a variety of ways.
Risks that may occur as a result of using meth include:
- Increasing risk of hepatitis and HIV
- Oral diseases commonly called meth mouth
- Premature delivery
- Brain damage
- Meth mite itching (itching related to nerve sensitivity)
- Lead poisoning
What is Meth Mouth?
One of the most common symptoms associated with meth is “meth mouth.” This is a term used to describe the visible effects of oral disease while using methamphetamine. Meth mouth can occur due to the continued use of the drug, which leads to rampant tooth decay.
Chronic meth use can be associated with teeth that are blackened, stained, rotten, and teeth that may even fall out. Meth mouth can take place over a prolonged period in stages.
The first stage of meth mouth includes bad breath and cavities. It’s also common to experience red and swollen gums, with the teeth in the front being the first to decay.
The second stage of meth mouth is more prominent. Sores on the lips may begin to appear during the second stage of meth mouth. Not only this, but gum tissue will begin to recede, and the decay process will worsen.
The third and final stage of meth mouth is where the teeth decay to the gum line. It’s also possible that teeth have already fallen out. Any teeth that have not fallen out but are badly affected will need to be removed by a dentist.
What Causes Meth Mouth?
Methamphetamine is a drug that causes serious long-term health issues. Meth mouth often comes hand-in-hand with chronic use of this drug. Symptoms associated with meth abuse can increase the likelihood of oral diseases.
The Acidity of Meth
Consuming acidic foods and drinks wears away at the enamel that protects the teeth. This is known as a process called teeth erosion. Teeth erosion can allow for bacteria that often lead to cavities and infection.
The pH scale is used to measure the acidity of a substance. Anything with a pH under seven is considered acidic. This places the drug methamphetamine more on the acidic side. The pH levels of meth range from 3.02 to 7.03, with the average drug acidity right at 5.0.
Prolonged consumption of meth can lead to more wear on the enamel and an increased risk of harmful bacteria.
Using meth can also dry out the mouth, which can cause problems with the teeth. Saliva is used and needed as protection for teeth. Consistent dry mouth can increase the risk of plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease.
New Cravings for Sugary Drinks
Using meth can increase the craving for sugary drinks, such as soda. Consuming too much sugar can lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay can be caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth that uses sugar from food and drinks to create acid. The acidity can then dissolve and damage the teeth over time.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, involves moving the jaw when the teeth are held together. Continuous teeth grinding results in significant wear and tear of the teeth and visible teeth flattening.
Teeth clenching occurs when holding teeth together and tightening the jaw muscles. Chronic meth abuse can lead to extensive teeth grinding and teeth clenching,
Meth abuse is commonly associated with poor oral hygiene, leading to various oral health problems. Cavities and gum disease are common with chronic meth use. The teeth of chronic meth abusers tend to have visible staining, rotting, and even teeth that may crumble or fall out.
How to Prevent Meth Mouth
Meth mouth is one of the common characteristics of chronic meth abuse. Here are a few options to prevent meth mouth from occurring.
The first step in treating meth mouth is to get the necessary help to treat the addiction. The road to recovery can be difficult, but users can help reverse the effects of chronic meth use and improve their health with the right support.
One option for treatment includes a drug detox center, which can provide you with comprehensive rehabilitation services that help you detox comfortably.
Follow Recommended Dental Hygiene Plan
Another way to prevent meth mouth is to follow the recommended dental hygiene plan that supports adequate oral health. With that said, it’s important to brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Additionally, follow up with your routine dental visits for cleanings.
Hydration is key when it comes to oral health. Keeping the mouth hydrated keeps the mouth clean. Hydration can wash away acids from plaque, food, and drinks, making the tooth enamel vulnerable.
Drinking plenty of water can help keep the mouth hydrated and clean. For optimal hydration, strive to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Eat Sugar-Free Gum
Try implementing sugar-free gum to help combat dry mouth and boost saliva production. Saliva helps neutralize harmful acids, kills germs, and fights against tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, saliva can help protect tooth enamel and speed up wound healing.
Talk With a Dentist About a Retainer
Teeth grinding and teeth clenching are common during methamphetamine use. To help combat this, a dentist can create a special retainer designed to help with grinding and clenching during sleep.
Your Road to Recovery With Inland Detox
Methamphetamine use and abuse can cause adverse health effects, including a condition commonly called “meth mouth.” Meth mouth is common among meth abusers because of the acidity in meth and lack of oral hygiene. Meth mouth and addiction can be treated, and recovery can be achievable with support.
Inland Detox in Temecula, CA, provides detoxification and inpatient treatment to those struggling with methamphetamine use. If you or your loved one is struggling with chronic methamphetamine abuse, reach out to Inland Detox today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our inpatient program.