What Causes Meth Mouth

According to the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime, the average amount of methamphetamine produced is around 500 metric tons each year, along with 24.7 million abusers. In 2008, the United States government estimated that about 13 million people over the age of 12 had used meth, with 529,000 of them being long-term users. As a result, meth usage has caused a number of health problems, especially meth-related dental problems, also known as meth mouth.

Meth Mouth in Depth

Meth mouth, a serious dental condition, is severe decay of the teeth, gums and other parts of the mouth. Nobody really knows exactly how this condition is caused, other than from meth-use itself. However, severe dry mouth and grinding of the teeth are thought to be the main cause. The reduction of saliva caused by meth use dramatically increases the chances of tooth and gum decay. Very few have an idea of exactly how meth causes dry mouth. One theory is that meth use causes constriction of the saliva glands. Since hydrochloric acid is used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, the chemical itself may also be partly responsible for meth mouth. Other causes are poor nutrition, lack of self-care and a high-sugar diet, which are common habits among long-term meth users. Those who inject the drug usually have the most severe cases of meth mouth.

Signs and SymptomsMeth-Mouth

Those who use the drug are known to experience extreme levels of euphoria and energy. Obviously, the most common sign of meth use is tooth decay. However, the teeth of a user appear to be black and falling apart. It’s important to note that tooth decay from meth use happens much more rapidly than decay from natural causes. Eventually, this decay results in tooth fractures and severe pain. The most obvious sign of meth use is severe weight-loss and premature aging.

Treatments for Meth Mouth

Unfortunately, meth mouth is very difficult to treat, mainly because of cardiac problems that are likely to result from the combination of methamphetamine and local anesthetics. Fluoride can be administered to the user to combat the severe tooth decay. Drugs that increase the production of saliva can also be given to counteract dry-mouth symptoms. Educating meth users about dental hygiene and personal care may also slow down the negative effects. However, the only sure way to treat meth mouth is for the user to quit their drug use entirely.

Lack of Controlled Studies

For apparent reasons, there have been very few controlled studies on meth mouth. Even though meth mouth is so popular with the anti-drug media, not much can be concluded scientifically. However, the cause-and-effect aspect of meth use and meth mouth is very apparent. Most conclusions of what causes this condition are just educated theories. This still doesn’t disprove the negative effects of meth abuse, as they are very apparent. Hopefully, more controlled studies will be done on this subject to find better solutions to the problem.

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