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Meth Mouth - The Effects of Methamphetamines on Teeth

Crystal Meth and Your Mouth

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Updated: September 10, 2007

The use and production of methamphetamine, a strong stimulant drug, is becoming a huge problem in America. Common street names for this illegal and highly addictive drug are ice, meth, speed, crank, quartz, and crystal. It has also been called the “poor man’s cocaine”. The use of methamphetamines can cause serious health problems, as well as serious problems to your mouth and teeth.

What is Meth Mouth?

“Meth Mouth” is a term used to describe the mouth of a methamphetamine user because of the rampant tooth decay that often occurs with the use of this dangerous drug. Using meth can cause decay so bad that the teeth cannot be saved and must be pulled instead. Some dentists are even comparing “meth mouth” to “bottle mouth” a term sometimes used for the mouths of children that have been sent to bed with a bottle of milk or juice repeatedly, causing severe tooth decay.

How Meth Can Damage Your Mouth

Methamphetamine use damages dental health in several ways:

  • During the “high” produced by this drug, users usually experience cravings for sugary carbonated beverages, which is bad for teeth.

  • The “high” from this drug lasts about 12 hours, during which time users will probably not brush or floss, therefore leaving the sugary substances on their teeth for long periods of time.

  • The acidic contents of this drug can damage teeth. Ingredients can include battery acid, lantern fuel, antifreeze, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, lye and over-the-counter cold medications containing ephedrine.

  • Users of methamphetamines usually tend to clench and / or grind their teeth.

  • Methamphetamines dry up protective saliva around the teeth.

Summary of Meth Mouth

Unfortunately, there is not much that a dentist can do for a patient with "meth mouth." The dentist may choose to educate the user on the effects of the drug and offer resources such as drug counseling services. However treating a meth addiction is usually a long, ongoing process.

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