Learn More about Meth Teeth
Meth Teeth: What Does Meth Do to Your Teeth?
Methamphetamine is a drug often also known as crystal, ice, speed, glass, and many other names. It is a drug that can be utilized in several different ways. It can be injected, smoked, and snorted. Some individuals may take the drug in pill form. It is highly addictive and the effect that this type of drug can have on an individual is not small.
When meth is used by someone, it can cause hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, decreased appetite, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, and tremors. When used regularly and over time, it can cause delusions, paranoia, anxiety, violent behavior, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. The effects of this drug are not small and many are often irreversible. Some people who use meth may also develop problems with their teeth1Ye, Tao, et al. “The Effect of Methamphetamine Abuse on Dental Caries and Periodontal Diseases in an Eastern China City – PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), 10 Jan. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5763656..
What is Meth Teeth and Meth Mouth?
Meth teeth or meth mouth is an aftereffect of using meth that many people are well aware of. Meth teeth are often described as blackened, falling out, crumbling into pieces, stained, and rotting. It can be simple to tell that someone is using or has utilized meth because of the way that their teeth have been affected.
Some other symptoms of meth mouth or meth teeth might include:
- Bad breath
- Teeth grinding
- Teeth clenching
- Gum disease
- Dry mouth
- Missing teeth
- Loose teeth
What Causes Meth Teeth and Meth Mouth?
It is said that there are both physiological and psychological causes of meth. Psychological causes of meth teeth would include those that did not directly rot the teeth, but those that allowed the teeth to rot. This often happens because of the emotional and behavioral effects that meth has on the brain and the individual that is using the substance. The effects of meth can last anywhere between 12-15 hours. More or less depending on the individual.
During this time, the individual is focusing on the effects that the drug is having on their brain and their experience. Dental hygiene is not a priority and that period of time is a long span to go without brushing or taking care of your teeth2Shetty, Vivek, et al. “Dental Disease Patterns in Methamphetamine Users: Findings in a Large Urban Sample – PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5364727. Accessed 11 Oct. 2022.. If someone is regularly using meth and the effects last that long each time, there are going to be a lot of long spans of time where the individual is not taking care of their teeth.
Meth also causes many individuals to neglect or forget to take care of important parts of their lives. They neglect proper nutrition. Brushing your teeth is not the only habit that helps us sustain our teeth. Our diet has a massive impact on our oral hygiene as well. If someone is not eating or not eating well, their teeth will suffer. Teeth are directly impacted by too much bad stuff and too little good stuff. Malnutrition alone is enough for teeth to begin rotting and decaying. Those who use meth often spend their time “buzzing”. This is when someone who has recently done meth or is currently on a high seeks out sugary sodas and sweets. This will only further the damage that is done from malnutrition and poor oral hygiene. Those that are dealing with meth addiction are often only focused on maintaining their addiction. Everything else falls to the wayside.
Teeth grinding also has an extremely large impact on the health of our teeth. Those that utilize meth are often anxious and carry a lot of tension. Both tension and anxiety can cause someone to grind their teeth involuntarily. Teeth grinding leads to chipped teeth and teeth erosion.
Meth can directly and physically affect the teeth because it is extremely acidic. The chemicals found in meth are often those that are also found in items like antifreeze, drain cleaner, and battery acid. These chemicals are extremely harsh on teeth and will erode them and make them extremely weak. This often furthers the complications and effects of teeth grinding.
Meth mouth also makes the mouth produce more bacteria than normal. Why? Xerostomia. Xerostomia is when someone has an extremely dry mouth. Saliva allows our mouth to regulate bacteria. When our mouth is dry, that regulation is not occurring and is therefore leading to an extreme growth in bacteria. More bacteria means more tooth and gum decay.
What Can Someone do about Meth Teeth?
The problem with tooth decay is that no matter how it happens, it is not exactly irreversible. There are ways to halt decay and keep it from continuing to develop, but if someone has cavities and teeth that are rotting, there is not much that can be done outside of extraction.
The first thing that someone with meth teeth needs to do is get help for their addiction. Once that is taken care of and they are in a healthy place to think about other things, they can begin working on recovering from effects like this.
The extent of meth mouth will depend on how intensely and how long the individual used the drug. Age may also play a factor in how intensely meth has affected your mouth. If you are younger, you may have less decay. If you are older than 30, you will likely have more decay than someone who is using in their twenties. If the individual primarily just has stained teeth, the dentist may recommend veneers. If there are cavities present, the dentist can fill those in. Many of those with meth teeth will have to have extractions completed. When this occurs, there are prosthetic pieces and dentures that can replace the missing teeth. If grinding continues to be an issue, there are mouth guards that can be used both at night and during the day to help alleviate those symptoms.
Every person’s addiction is different and therefore the treatment that they will need afterward will vary as well. After you have begun recovering from your addiction, a dentist will be more than happy to meet with you to assess and discuss what your treatment plan should look like. They will do their absolute best to make sure you have the confidence to smile again.
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- 1Ye, Tao, et al. “The Effect of Methamphetamine Abuse on Dental Caries and Periodontal Diseases in an Eastern China City – PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), 10 Jan. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5763656.
- 2Shetty, Vivek, et al. “Dental Disease Patterns in Methamphetamine Users: Findings in a Large Urban Sample – PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5364727. Accessed 11 Oct. 2022.
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