Meth Use and Dental Health

Methamphetamine abuse creates disastrous physical and social consequences across the United States. To illustrate, methamphetamine has surpassed all other substances nationwide for convictions based on drug use. Cheap production costs combined with powerful addictive potential lead to continuing problems for human health and welfare. Chief among the unwelcome side effects are devastating damage to the teeth and gums.

Dental Decay from Drug Abuse

“Meth mouth,” as it’s known informally, is the shockingly high level of decay seen in the mouths of drug users. Numerous photos exist on the Internet and all of them are disturbing. Symptoms are typical to any kind of tooth decay, but make far more rapid progress in oral destruction than normal. Bad breath leads to bleeding gums, red and swollen tissues, and eventually multiple cavities. Dentists eventually see a distinctive pattern of major decay as first enamel, then teeth and finally jawbones simply erode away. This oral damage is one of the primary reasons why meth users age so rapidly and often appear decades older than their actual age.

Causes of Meth Damage

The blame for these issues is placed on more than just the chemical drug itself. Most dentists agree that a combination of dry mouth (xerostomia), poor oral care and nutrition, and drug-induced teeth grinding leads to rapid enamel destruction. For example, the lack of saliva prevents remineralization of the tooth enamel. Drug fueled cravings for unhealthy foods and beverages introduce excessive quantities of sugars and acids to the teeth. And such binges generally don’t include breaks for oral hygiene. Finally, smoking meth constricts the blood vessels, limiting the supply of nutrients to the oral tissues. The combination leads to rapidly receding gums and teeth turned into bony stumps.

If you are concerned about the oral health of a loved one that may be dealing with drug addiction, it’s very important to inform their doctor and our Yuba City dentists. Help them receive the professional assistance they desperately need! With concern, knowledge and discretion, the Yuba City Dentistry Group is qualified to help all to regain good oral health and a functional smile they can enjoy.


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