Methamphetamine or popularly known as, meth, is an addictive substance that leaves a person with dangerous health conditions. It may lead to death but meth also impacts dental hygiene critically. Meth mouth is another adverse oral outcome of meth addiction resulting in tooth decay, high oral damage and gum disorder.
What is Meth Mouth?
According to a study result, around 12.3 million US citizens have tried meth once in their lives and an estimated 6,00,000 Americans are on this substance misuse. The substance is also known as speed, ice or chalk and can evoke of the feeling of being high. Referring to high blood pressure, breathing rate, dilating pupils and releasing of fat and sugar in the bloodstream can be the side-effects.
Meth is more provoking than cocaine and the former lasts 12 hours whereas the latter stays for only 1 hour. Now one of the consequences of meth addiction leads to meth mouth in which tooth decay is a primary problem. The corrosive and acidic effects of the chemicals existing in the drug are known as,
- Lithium present in batteries
- Red phosphorus existing in matchboxes
- Anhydrous ammonia found in fertilizer
These harmful components have the power to erode the protective enamel of the tooth if a person smokes or snorts them. Fundamentally, it is a high degree of tooth decay infused with mental and physical changes which become the reason behind the dry mouth. Prolonged poor oral hygiene or high consumption of carbonated beverage along with tooth clenching and grinding also causes this oral condition.
What Happens due to Meth Mouth?
Rotting, stained, blackened, falling apart and crumbling are vividly seen among the people with meth addiction. However, to what extent meth mouth impacts the oral health differs from person to person. In past, it has been found that people snorted meth underwent worse case of tooth decay than those who injected or smoked it.
The preliminary sign of this dental disorder is stain and then the tooth decay initiates. As meth is an acidic component and it causes dry mouth, it debilitates the salivary glands. The salivary glands have the potential to restrict the acids from damaging the tooth enamel.
Carbonated drinks can adversely affect the oral hygiene and the meth addiction increases the craving for drinking such beverages more. Anxiety and nervousness are two causes of teeth clenching and methamphetamine addiction can cause these.
The condition may take a serious turn and the tooth cannot be extracted or salvaged. It is necessary to be under medical supervision for taking meth.
What Causes Meth Mouth?
Meth mouth is the mix of lifestyle factors and the side effects of methamphetamine.
- Irregular oral hygiene
- Rapid consumption of fizzy and sugary drinks
- Grinding and clenching of teeth
- Dry mouth.
The use of methamphetamine may be the cause of narrowing down the blood vessels and it leads to the decrease in salivary flow. Alpha-adrenergic receptors are activated by norepinephrine and meth. In this case, dehydration becomes a serious problem along with the sensation of xerostomia or dry mouth.
Tooth wear and periodontal disease are caused by the prolonged use of the methamphetamine. As the methamphetamine users witness strong sugary food cravings and sugary beverages, their oral hygiene is susceptible to go down. Tooth decay is mainly the cause of the high amount of acidity found in the mouth.
Symptoms of Prolonged Use of Meth on Oral Health
The symptoms vary from person to person on a large scale but based on the common cases, the main symptoms are enlisted here.
- Sensitive and loose teeth
- Red and swollen gum
- Excessive craving for sugary drink
- Tooth decay
- Cotton mouth
- Crumbled or fractured teeth
It is observed that the meth users suffer from missing teeth, calculus. Plaque and tooth decay on a large scale. Apart from these symptoms, the meth mouth shows critical periodontal problems. The scale of tooth loss is higher among women population than men.
Critical Oral Effects of Meth Mouth
The devastating consequences of dental cases are completely visible due to the use of meth. Due to rapid caries which are heavily linked to the meth use, crank decay or mouth surface. It is vaguely similar to the baby bottle caries or childhood caries.
The severe and different pattern of tooth decay is also noticeable on the buccal surface of the tooth at the interproximal surface of anterior of teeth and cementoenamel junction. Now people associated with continuous meth use are a victim of severe dental caries which are twice awful than untreated caries.
High degree of tooth wear takes place due to chronic meth use and muscle trismus aggravates the signs of temporomandibular disease.
Moreover, the problem is also twice complex than the filled teeth, tooth decay or tooth loss. The rate of edentulism is higher among the non-meth users. Meth negatively influences the sympathetic nervous system.
The disease reduces salivary flow and it leads to a high propensity for tooth decay along with xerostomia. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarette cause exacerbate xerostomia. Carcinogenic bacteria developed due to prolonged methamphetamine use results in breaking sugar into acid.
Xerostomia gives rise to gingival infection and inflammation and can lead to cheilitis, glossitis and candidiasis. The oral condition adversely affects the plaque build-up.
Know about Xerostomia
You may not be familiar with the term ‘xerostomia’ but it stands for dry mouth when there is a lack of saliva flow. It is not regarded as a disease but it is a medical condition and also one of the symptoms of meth mouth.
While the oral surface is generated, the conducting nerves pass the salivatory nuclei for reaching medulla. The signal being present in medulla also affects the cortical inputs which come from stimuli like anxiety, smell, depression and taste.
The oral condition has a history of taking serious turns. A person may suffer from dry nasal passages, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, burning sensation, sore throat and hoarseness. Most of the meth users undergo these symptoms of dry mouth.
Improve Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is to be blamed for this oral status, apart from the continuous the methamphetamine use. Following are the vital tips to improve your oral condition at home,
- Schedule oral irrigation which removes bacteria and food particles by pumping water.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash before rinsing.
- Always brush twice a day and small areas need 20 brush strokes. Do not brush vigorously either.
- Fluoride boosts tooth enamel and a fluoride toothpaste is a great idea.
- Set an appointment with your dentist if you notice bleeding from gum and teeth.
- Starchy and sugary food and drinks are the main causes of tooth decay. Sugar erodes the tooth enamel which is the outer protection.
- Inflamed gums may lead to bleeding and it is best to consult a doctor.
Treatment for Meth Mouth
The easiest way to treat meth mouth is to steer clear form methamphetamine. However, if you become addicted to meth, staying away from meth use is the hardest thing to do. Without professional help, detox process and rehab therapy, you cannot save yourself from the adverse dental condition.
Decay on the smooth tooth surface is prevalent and the malnourishment arises due to lack of appetite caused by meth use. The rate of decay acceleration is comparatively higher among young adults and teenagers. Topical fluoride is one of the preventive measures commonly recommended by doctors.
There is no cure for meth mouth and the lost trees due to long use cannot be brought back. Here are a few tips to dodge further dental complications,
- Fix the doctor’s appointment and inform the healthcare professional about the history of meth use. It is better to make a list of queries to ask before going to the doctor.
- Keep up a healthy hygiene and brush twice a day. Do not binge on sugar-loaded drinks and foods.
- Tooth extraction may be suggested by the dentist and you can ask him or her whether the filing is still an option. Dentures can be helpful, too.
- The mouthguard is effective if teeth grinding or clenching is a serious problem.
Tips for Carrying Dentures
If the dentist recommends dentures, you should remember to clean them regularly. A plaque still can develop behind the dentures and choose only soft-bristled brushes only. If you use mild toothpaste and carefully clean them, you may recover the awful oral condition created by dentures.
After implanting the dentures, you may need to make adjustments and you should professional’s help in this case. There are denture repair kits available but they do not offer a satisfactory solution. Also, meth use leaves a negative impact on your gums and you should clean them regularly.
Painful brushing can deteriorate the condition of meth mouth because you will undergo more pain and mouth sore. Nonetheless, wearing the dentures always is not a good idea and keep them in a cleansing solution at night. Only water is a good option for the dentures because they have metal attachments.
Get Speedy Recovery after Tooth Extraction
When meth mouth completely erodes the tooth, the dentist may not be left with any other choice except tooth extraction. After the pulling the tooth from the root, you will rely on painkillers. If the gauze is soaked with blood, do not forget to change it on time.
Ice bags are effective for the affected area for minimizing the severity of swelling. Keep applying ice bag in every 10 minutes. Also, do not engage in tooth activity for the next 24 hours and stay relaxed.
Stop smoking because it will derogate the condition of meth mouth and the entire oral health. At this time, do rely on soup or yogurt and be careful about not lying fat. Brush and floss but be protective towards the extracted area.
Pain Management for Meth Mouth
Meth mouth victims undergo severe dental pain and many patients seek medical help to regain control over health. Their main focus is always on the least stressful and safest medical practice available.
The impact of meth use generally lasts for 8-12 hours and the adversity of the intoxication can also last up to 24 hours. If you are on prescribed narcotics, vasoconstrictor, sedative and nitrous oxide, you should be more cautious.
Now the patient may suffer from an increased risk of hypertension, cardiac dysrhythmias, cerebrovascular accidents and myocardial infarction due to vasoconstrictor. The patient should be under supervision due to his or her tendency of abusing opioids from the prescription.
Further Discussion on Meth Mouth
Due to low price compared to other stimulant drugs, ease of production and wide appeal – these are the main problems causing meth-related diseases in a wide range. Generally, the patients have a faint outlook; suffer from weight loss and malnourishment.
Bruxism, irritability, body sores, quick development of cervical caries and hyperactivity are the signs of the long use of methamphetamine. Henceforth, the meth users should opt for dental management as suggested,
- For increasing saliva flow, take the sugarless gums.
- Utilize the fluoride supplementation in the right amount.
- Do not take local anesthetic along with epinephrine.
- Take effective measure to leave the drug use and choose the right dental therapy.
- Do not binge on beverages full of carbs.
It is observed that meth users do not choose the ideal meal and depend more on snacks and regular pop soda. They do not brush teeth and smoke rapidly. Fewer molars, decay on anterior teeth, and noticeable plaque are more common among the drug abusers. The number of carries is unbelievably higher among the meth users.
If you develop the self-determination to stop smoking, inhaling or injecting the substance, you can avert the risks and symptom at the earliest stage. Nevertheless, this is never the case for the meth users becoming a victim of various health and dental conditions. Do not shy away from taking help at an early phase or push your closed ones willing to help you.