What is Meth Mouth?
Picture 1 – Meth Mouth
Source – doctorspiller
Meth mouth is an oral condition that is seen in persons who use methamphetamine drug for longer time.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive drug. Medically, this drug is used for the treatment of ADHD and exogenous obesity. Crystal methamphetamine is also known as meth, glass, crank or speed and the smokable form of methamphetamine is called ‘ice’.
The main ingredients of methamphetamines are Lithium, ether, red phosphorus, and Iye. All the key ingredients of methamphetamines are corrosives and cause skin irritation. Methamphetamine can be easily made at home labs.
Action of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that alters the release of neurotransmitters. Chemically it is similar to dopamine and nor epinephrine and crosses the blood-brain barrier easily. It can directly enter the nerve cell membrane and reach the nerve terminal and cause the release of neurotransmitters. They affect the pleasure reward pathway and a higher concentration can elicit feelings of euphoria and pleasure.
Meth Mouth Symptoms
Picture 2 – Meth Mouth Picture
Source - doctorspiller
Below are the common symptoms of meth mouth associated with meth abuse :
Methamphetamine acts on salivary glands and stops the production of saliva. As a result the oral cavity dries out. Saliva acts as a buffer neutralizing the acidic nature of the food we eat. Also if the salivary flow is decreased the acidic content in the food stuffs may damage the outer layer of tooth ie, the enamel and creates small spots on the tooth surface. These small spots eventually turn into cavities or dental caries. The bacterial level may increase to ten times than the normal amount if the mouth is dry.
Cracked Meth Mouth Teeth
Teeth grinding are sometimes a way of relieving stresses. Severe bruxism in meth users produces cracks in teeth that is already damaged due to tooth decay.
High sugar diet along with meth use causes severe tooth decay. Pictures of meth mouth show that tooth decay is common in all meth addiction cases.
The immunity level in meth users is low as a result the germs tend to attack the gums and teeth structure resulting in meth mouth sores. Long term meth abuse may lead to a necrotizing condition of gingiva called ANUG.
As methamphetamine is a stimulant drug, the user becomes nervous and may go days without sleep. This leads to unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Being awake for several days as a result of the stimulant action of methamphetamine effects, the person may forget to brush his teeth for days together. As a result plaque accumulates on the teeth surface.
Meth Mouth Health Hazards
In addition to the above methamphetamine teeth symptoms, meth users face the following health hazards :
- Vaso Constriction- Methamphetamine causes narrowing of blood vessels which is mainly attributed to the key ingredient, pseudoephedrine present in it.
- Meth mite itching- As meth can easily cross the nerve cell membrane, the nerve endings are highly affected and the person may feel itching under skin. They feel as if there is some bug, meth mites under the skin. They scratch hard to get relief from itching. Continuous scratching result in meth sores.
- Heart problems including inflammation of the heart lining, hypertension, increased heart rate
- Lead poisoning.- Lead is one of the ingredients in the production of crystal meth.
- Risks for HIV, damage blood vessels and skin abscess for those who inject the drug
- Premature delivery if taken during pregnancy
- Convulsions and hyperthermia if the drug is taken in excess.
Meth mouth pictures from reliable medical websites reveals the bad part of the meth face effects and the meth mouth before and after changes of treatment.
Meth Mouth Facts or Misconceptions about Methamphetamines
The fact about meth mouth is that, it is not the chemical ingredient in crystal meth that causes meth effects like dental caries, gingivitis etc, but due to the associated condition called xerostomia. Xerostomia or dry mouth is a common symptom in meth addicts.
Meth Mouth Treatment
Kick Out the Habit
The most important aspect of treating effects of meth mouth is complete cessation of meth consumption. Only if the intake of drug is stopped, the rest of the treatment will be effective.
If the meth tooth decay is in the initial stage, it can be filled and prevent further caries spread. If the caries is in the front of the teeth, an esthetic filling can be done. Or if the caries is extended, the person can go for an RCT or root canal filling.
Gingivitis if left untreated will lead to infection of periodontal bone and later bone loss. Cleaning of teeth at dental office and antibiotics if there is infection may be necessary.
Treatment of xerostomia is important when dealing with meth teeth. One can try artificial saliva or medicines that increase the flow of saliva.
Other Preventive Measures
Proper oral hygiene maintenance and timely visit to dentist is important in treating meth mouth. The dentist may advice the patient to use some medications and mouth rinses to help the gingiva and the other affected areas to heal faster.
Meth Mouth Pictures
Check out Meth Mouth photos to understand the condition better.
Image 3 – Meth Mouth Photo
Source – mappsd
Photo 4 - Meth Mouth Image
Source - freewebs
A dentist needs to be consulted at the onset of meth mouth teeth symptoms and seek GP’s help for other health issues to prevent meth mouth.
Written by Anju Mathew
on February 28th, 2011. The article was last updated on March 11th, 2011