Methamphetamine use and oral health: meth mouth

Friday, October 17, 2014

By: Betsy Hansen

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Methamphetamine use is not only detrimental to one’s overall health, but causes havoc on teeth and gums too. This oral issue even has a nickname – “meth mouth.”


Meth mouth is a collection of diseases in the oral cavity that most commonly occurs in patients who are consistently using methamphetamine drugs. It’s a compilation of dental caries or decay, infections, swelling, pain, chipped and loose teeth as well as periodontal disease.


As a Board Certified oral surgeon, Steve A. Zent, DDS, MD, sees this problem in his office.


Causes of meth mouth


It’s not only the methamphetamine drugs which cause problems in the oral cavity; the drug creates dry mouth – and people with dry mouth have intense cravings for liquids, particularly sugary liquids such as soda.


“The people using these drugs usually are having issues with decisions on hygiene and oral intake,” said Dr. Zent. Drinking sugary liquids and sodas can increase cavities, erode gums and decay teeth.


Lack of saliva, teeth grinding and clenching, poor hygiene, decreased blood flow and malnutrition can all cause permanent damage to one’s smile.


The cost of methamphetamine use on your teeth


The other significant factor with meth mouth is the exuberant cost of repairing the teeth.


“It is heartbreaking to have to tell them you are going to remove most or all of their teeth. And once their teeth are gone, to reconstruct their function and their mouth is exceedingly expensive,” said Dr. Zent.


Listen as Dr. Zent tells us more in the video below.


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