The Effects of Methamphetamines on Dental Health

Effects of Methamphetamine on Oral Health | Agape Treatment Center

The Effects of Methamphetamines on Dental Health

Methamphetamine is an illegal controlled stimulant, one that is known to cause a wide range of serious symptoms including rapid heartbeat, delirium, psychosis, panic attacks, and heart failure.

Any individual who uses methamphetamine is liable to experience a wide range of serious and lasting health-related issues.

This specific chemical substance is widely known as one of the most addictive substances available, and even those who engage in one-time use have reported developing a physical and psychological dependency.

Methamphetamine can be ingested in a variety of ways, including smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting intravenously. The reason why this drug is so highly habit-forming is that the high that is produced generally begins to fade away in 20 or 30 minutes, leading to repetitive use in a short period.

Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction

Methamphetamine abuse and addiction result in a range of short and long-term effects. Some of the more common short-term effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • A sharp increase in blood pressure
  • An increase in body temperature
  • Rapid breathing and hyperventilation
  • Increased energy levels
  • An increase in sociability and physical activity
  • Decreased appetite

Some of the more common long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • Significant and sometimes dangerous weight loss
  • Skin-related issues, such as intense itching which can lead to open wounds and sores
  • Permanent changes in brain structure
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia
  • Violent outbursts
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss and lasting confusion
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related issues
  • Severe dental problems also are known as “meth mouth”

Negative Effects of Meth Abuse on Oral Health

Chronic methamphetamine abuse destroys oral health. According to the American Dental Association, “meth mouth” is characterized by gum disease and tooth decay, which can cause rotten teeth to completely fall out. The Association carefully examined the teeth of 571 chronic methamphetamine users. The study revealed several alarming statistics, including:

  • 31% of the examined methamphetamine users had over six missing teeth
  • 58% of methamphetamine users suffered from untreated tooth decay
  • 56% of all examined methamphetamine users had at least one cavity, however, most had several

It was also found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of meth used on a daily or daily basis and the severity of tooth decay. Those who used greater amounts of this illegal chemical substance suffered more rotting, stained, blackened, and crumbling teeth than those who used methamphetamine less frequently.

A combination of factors leads to the compromised oral hygiene of methamphetamine users, including psychological changes, physiological changes, poor oral hygiene in general, and the acidic nature of the drug itself. Of course, restoring oral hygiene and repairing a mouthful of broken and decaying teeth is certainly no small task.

However, this does not mean that it is impossible. Many individuals who have suffered from mild to moderate “meth mouth” and who have maintained sobriety for an extended period have gone on to receive intensive dental care, ultimately restoring the quality of their teeth with veneers, crowns, and other methods of intervention.

Meth Rehab at Agape Treatment Center

Agape Treatment Center offers a highly integrated level of clinical care, dedicated to helping men of women of all ages who have been suffering at the hands of a methamphetamine abuse disorder of any severity.

While many of the long-term side effects of chronic methamphetamine abuse are permanent, certain issues “meth mouth” can be improved over time.

Of course, issues this can only be improved upon if the individual maintains sobriety for an extended period.

To learn more about the risks involved in methamphetamine abuse, or to learn more about our comprehensive program of drug addiction recovery, please feel free to reach out to us at any point in time. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you get started on your journey of addiction recovery as quickly as possible.


Meth Mouth: Early Stages, Symptoms, Treatment & More

The Effects of Methamphetamines on Dental Health

  • Meth mouth is an unpleasant oral disease caused by meth use.
  • Meth mouth is irreversible, unpleasant and expensive to treat.
  • Stopping meth use is the best way to avoid meth mouth problems.

One of the common signs of long-term methamphetamine addiction is tooth decay. Using meth causes an abuser’s teeth to first stain, then decay and eventually fall out as early as one year into abusing meth.

According to the American Dental Association, research shows that a large sampling of meth users:

  • 96% had cavities
  • 58% had untreated tooth decay
  • 31% had six or more missing teeth

Unfortunately, most people who use meth will experience meth mouth to some degree, and many will have severe effects.

However, research by The Recovery Village found the more you use meth, the higher your risk: heavy meth users were over four times more ly than others to get meth mouth in general and three times more ly to get broken teeth in particular.

The method of use also mattered: people who smoked meth were three times more ly to get meth mouth than people who used other methods.

Although oral hygiene symptoms are some of the most common side effects of methamphetamine abuse, the drug carries many other side effects.

Other symptoms of meth abuse and addiction include:

  • Formication (The sensation of insects crawling under your skin)
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Sores, infection and other skin problems

How Long Does It Take to Get Meth Mouth?

Within one year of using the notorious street drug methamphetamine, users can develop the oral hygiene symptoms commonly known as “meth mouth” — a frightening case of extensive oral damage, tooth decay and gum disease. Meth mouth is incurable and, in many cases, can lead to tooth extraction and extensive dental work.

Meth Mouth Symptoms

The severity of meth mouth differs from one person to the next. While some people addicted to meth may lose several teeth from decay and gum disease, other meth users may only suffer from a few cavities.

Some of the most common symptoms of meth mouth include:

  • Cottonmouth
  • Gum disease
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tooth decay
  • Clenching or grinding of teeth
  • Cravings for sugary drinks
  • Inconsistent oral hygiene

Why Does Crystal Meth Rot Your Teeth?

Methamphetamine causes dryness of the mouth, called xerostomia, reducing the natural protection that helps the teeth to maintain their healthy enamel. Without this defense, teeth can easily decay. In addition, meth intensifies cravings for sugary drinks, sodas, and foods that contribute to significant damage to the teeth.

Because of its addictive nature, methamphetamine can cause users to neglect daily hygiene routines. That specifically includes brushing teeth. Methamphetamine also causes anxiety and nervousness, resulting in users grinding and clenching their teeth, which wears down the already fragile teeth.

Meth Mouth Treatment

Meth mouth is irreversible, so treatment centers around repairing the damage that has been done. Depending on the level of corrosion and decay, users may need teeth extractions, implants and even dentures to reconstruct what once was. Those fortunate enough to have less damage from meth use may only need cavities filled or some root canals.

Overall, to prevent further damage, experts urge users to seek help and stop misusing methamphetamine. Full recovery is dependent on detoxification, rehabilitation, improved dietary habits and improved oral hygiene.

Recovering From Meth Addiction

Recovery from meth addiction can be difficult, but it is possible. While there are no medications specifically designed to treat meth withdrawal, many medications can make the process more comfortable.

There are also different techniques to help someone stop using meth, such as tapering meth use, stopping under medical supervision (called medical detox), and using therapies to help alleviate some of the effects of withdrawal.

Recovery from meth addiction typically involves two processes. The initial phase involves detoxing and getting through the initial withdrawal symptoms, which can be more severe and unpleasant. An addiction recovery center can help someone stay as comfortable as possible during this phase and help ensure they don’t give up as they are starting to see success.

The second stage of recovery involves making long-term strides towards maintaining the sobriety that you have achieved. This can involve participating in therapies that help you to understand the root of the addiction and creating a plan to avoid using meth in the future.

Meth addiction can be a tough journey to face alone, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ample resources available to help find treatment and recovery centers for those struggling with an addiction. If you or someone you know is suffering from meth addiction, don’t be afraid to seek help; contact the Recovery Village today.

  • Sources

    American Dental Association. “Meth Mouth: How Methamphetamine Use Affects Dental Health.” 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse?” April 13, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.

  • Medical Disclaimer

    The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

    We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

    View our editorial policy or view our research.

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