If a person’s teeth decay at a faster rate it could result in Meth mouth and it usually happens in persons who use meth. The teeth of such persons become very black and highly stained and they appear rotten and are likely to drop any moment. Whenever there is a usual decay in a person it occurs at the back of his mouth as well as in the teeth grooves. This is mainly because of the fact that these surfaces are hard to clean. On the other hand the tooth decay of a meth user occurs on his front teeth and also along the gum line surfaces that are relatively simple to clean. The rate of tooth decay in a meth user is much quicker than that in a non-meth user.
History of Meth mouth
The name meth mouth was coined during the period 2004-2005. This was a major problem for corrections personnel who were responsible for processing new inmates for the city jail. The rampant tooth decay has been in existence much earlier to the year 2004 in these people; however it was found that there has been a sharp increase in the people having rampant caries. In addition it was also seen that many of these people had rampant caries and ANUG as compared to earlier years. On further examination it was found that these people having combination of rampant caries and ANUG were addicts of methamphetamine.
Side effects of Methamphetamines on Dental Health
• Lifestyle Effects – People taking meth neglect their personal/ oral hygiene, consume less food, sleep less and take more of sugary foods and soda. Poor oral hygiene causes gum infections and periodontal disease. Consumption of non-nutritious food and sleeplessness weakens the immune system thereby affecting your resistance to gum diseases. Sugary food and soda will convert plaque to acidic thereby causing tooth decay.
• Physiological effects – meth dehydrates your body thereby making you drink soda or other soft drinks that contain sugar. Further dehydration causes dry mouth. Meth addict lacks appetite and because of this his body craves for energy which he gets by drinking soda and soft drinks that contain sugar.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms are – fever, malaise and nausea, pain in gums while eating, headaches, neck aches and jaw aches and serious tooth pain whereas the signs are – abscessed teeth, attrition of the teeth, bad breath, broken teeth, rampant tooth decay and recurrent ANUG.
Meth users and nonusers
Normally people associate meth mouth with methamphetamines addiction. This is not true. Meth mouth can also occur with increase in stress, poor oral health maintenance, poor nutrition and high intake of sugar. Both users and non-users of meth may or may not get meth mouth and this is mainly because of the fact that meth mouth is caused by improper oral hygiene and not by the toxic chemicals of the drug.
The probability of getting meth mouth decreases for a meth user provided he/ she maintains a good oral hygiene by proper brushing and flossing and also avoids taking sugary drinks. Meth addicts are susceptible for getting dry mouth – Xerostomia – that will cause dental decay, erosion of enamel and periodontal disease.
Treatment for meth mouth depends on the present teeth conditions of the meth user. If the problem is attended to on time it is possible to save some of the teeth.
However, in practice such people go to the dentist only when the damage done is severe thereby necessitating teeth extraction and partial/ complete dentures.
If a meth user is anxious about the condition of his mouth he must take treatment for meth addiction before attempting to take treatment for the mouth. Persons using meth will be affected by dry mouth making them drink more and more fluids. Under such circumstances they should drink more of water and avoid drinking sugary carbonated beverages.
It is possible to reduce the progression rate of meth mouth if you practice good dental hygiene – brushing, flossing and rinsing with fluoridated mouthwash and frequent professional cleaning.