How Methamphetamine Affects Your Teeth

Feb 18th, 2012 | By | Category: Dental News

methamphetamineDo you have a loved one whose teeth are rapidly staining, rotting, or falling apart? Is this person going days without sleeping, eating very little, and drinking sugary beverages constantly? If so, he or she may be using methamphetamine, a highly-addictive street drug that wreaks havoc on the body and destroys the teeth. These are the facts about methamphetamine use and how it can lead to tooth loss.

What is methamphetamine?

Known by the street names meth, ice, crystal, crank, speed, and glass, methamphetamine is a cheap drug made with extremely toxic ingredients. These ingredients include battery acid, lighter fluid, cold remedies, drain cleaner, and lye. Methamphetamine can be ingested orally, injected, or smoked. It stimulates the central nervous system and can lead to serious health problems including shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, permanent brain damage, and severe tooth decay.

How does methamphetamine damage the teeth?

Methamphetamine use leads to a condition commonly known as “meth mouth,” which is characterized by teeth that are often blackened, chalky, and broken. The drug destroys the teeth in several ways:

  • A meth high can last 12 hours or longer, during which time the user will not be concerned with proper oral hygiene.
  • Users often crave sugary, carbonated beverages during the high, which can erode tooth enamel.
  • Meth inhibits saliva flow, which leads to more acid erosion and subsequent tooth decay.
  • Users will often feel anxious during the high and grind their teeth, leading to tooth breakage.
  • The ingredients in methamphetamine are highly acidic and corrosive, so ingesting them or smoking them puts them in direct contact with the teeth, causing damage to the tooth enamel.

Can “meth mouth” be corrected by a dentist?

If you seek treatment before too much tooth damage develops, Dr. Denes can correct any decay with fillings, crowns, and fluoride treatments. Chipped or discolored teeth can be fixed with veneers or bonding. However, many meth users are too embarrassed by the state of their teeth to seek help, so they wait until there is too much damage for the teeth to be saved. If that is the case, Dr. Denes can insert dental implants to replace missing teeth.

To break your methamphetamine addiction, seek help from a physician, psychotherapist, or drug treatment program. As improving the appearance and functioning of your teeth is a critical part of your recovery, your next step should be to call Drs. Alex and Claudia Denes at (559) 297-1800 to schedule an appointment. Fresno Dental Studio serves patients from Fresno, Clovis, Sanger, Mendota, Orange Cove, Reedley, Selma, and the surrounding areas.

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