The drug Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that can cause a range of health problems. In recent years it has become a popular recreational drug.
While its physical health risks are well-known, many people are unaware of how it can also have disastrous consequences for our oral health. This effect has become known as “meth mouth” .
Methamphetamine is a stimulant. Its medical use is intended for severe cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) . However, in reality it is predominantly used recreationally by people seeking a “high”.
People take methamphetamine either by smoking it, swallowing it in pill format, injecting it or most often – snorting it . The drug increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, resulting in elevated mood, increased alertness and generally improved wellbeing . These are only short-term effects though.
However, methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug which can cause serious damage. Psychosis, seizures and rapid mood swings are all potential adverse effects. Moreover, overdose and potential death is common . In fact, between 2015 and 2019, the number of reported overdose deaths involving methamphetamine doubled .
Since 1970, the drug has been listed as a Schedule II drug, making its recreational use illegal . Unfortunately, as indicated above, this hasn’t stopped its recreational use.
What is meth mouth?
Aside from the physical health effects outlined above, there are a host of oral health consequences. The effects are termed “meth mouth” .
This is used to describe the tooth decay that is caused by the symptoms induced by methamphetamine . So while the drug itself doesn’t cause meth mouth directly, it helps it to develop.
Meth mouth will often result in stained, rotting, blackened teeth that are either crumbling or have fallen apart. Eventually, if left untreated, they will often fall out.
Meth mouth involves tooth decay starting at the gum line, resulting in gum disease developing. This often contributes to teeth falling out.
Causes of meth mouth?
As we mentioned above, it isn’t actually methamphetamine that directly causes meth mouth. Instead, it causes a range of symptoms that contribute towards meth mouth, as outlined below :
• Methamphetamine causes a dry mouth, which reduces saliva in the mouth. When this happens, bacteria can thrive, damaging our teeth and gums.
• The “high” associated with methamphetamine often causes the user to crave sweets, chocolate, or soda. These high-sugar foods and drink cause damage to teeth and cause tooth decay.
• Worryingly, methamphetamine includes acidic compounds, including battery acid and household cleaning agents. These unnatural substances shouldn’t come into contact with our mouths.
• Methamphetamine causes Bruxism (teeth grinding), which is damaging to the teeth.
Can meth mouth be treated?
The sooner that meth mouth is treated, the better the chances are of those with the condition’s oral health being improved. If left alone, their oral health will only worsen.
A good starting point is to attend a dental check-up. This can allow a dentist the chance to review the oral health of the patient and see what treatment needs to be done.
Then, if cavity fillings are needed, or potentially a root canal treatment, then the dentist can put together a treatment plan. However, in some cases teeth removal will be needed. But if this is the case, then implants or dentures may be a possibility.
Aside from treatment, general advice like brushing teeth twice a day, flossing, drinking more water and consuming less sugary foods can all help. These small changes can have a big effect in the long-term.
Overall, while meth mouth presents a big problem to the oral health of a patient, as long as they seek treatment something can be done. While treatment will take time it will be worthwhile to their health and wellbeing in the long-term.
 If you are a past or current user of methamphetamine, there is a high chance that your oral health has been badly affected. But there is no need to be ashamed of this. However, we would strongly recommend attending a dentist as soon as possible, as the earlier that problems are tackled, the better the chance of stronger treatment outcomes. We recommend booking an appointment now!
 If you are a methamphetamine user it is important for you to know the effects of the drug. It is highly addictive and damaging to multiple aspects of your health. We would urge you to discuss with a doctor your drug use and see if there is a way that you can stop this unhealthy habit. There is plenty of information available on the internet that can inform you on its dangers and provide practical advice on giving it up. It will be highly beneficial to yourself to see if you can stop taking the drug!
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a wide range of dental treatment options and advice aimed at improving their oral health.
It is very important to have excellent oral hygiene. This involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly and eating healthily. Therefore, this should help your oral health.
We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide a comprehensive review of a patient’s oral health. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
Moreover, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing.
We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website https://taradaledental.ca.
 Jones-Bradley, M. (2023). What is meth mouth? causes, symptoms & treatments. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-04-meth-mouth-symptoms-treatments.html. Last accessed: 29th April 2023.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2023). Methamphetamine DrugFacts. Available: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine. Last accessed: 29th April 2023.
 Velázguez, T., & Remrey, L. (2022). Methamphetamine Use, Overdose Deaths, and Arrests Soared From 2015 to 2019. Available: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2022/08/16/methamphetamine-use-overdose-deaths-and-arrests-soared-from-2015-to-2019. Last accessed: 29th April 2023.
 Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Meth Mouth. Available: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/odh/documents/meth-mouth.pdf. Last accessed: 29th April 2023.