Last Updated: October 28, 2022
People who use meth or know people who do may have heard of meth mouth. While not a technical, medical term, meth mouth describes the effects that using meth can have on your mouth. Meth use causes tooth decay and oral diseases that lead to receding gums and eventually tooth loss.
What Is Meth Mouth?
Meth mouth is a slang term used to describe the mouth problems that meth causes. Primarily, meth causes dry mouth and tooth decay that can lead to tooth loss and infections developing in the gums or even in the jaw and face bones.
Meth use can cause people to clench and grind their teeth. When combined with the dry mouth and tooth decay meth already causes, teeth can wear down faster or even crack. All of these factors combine to create meth mouth.
What Does Meth Mouth Look Like?
Meth mouth can typically be recognized by its effects on your teeth. The teeth of someone who uses meth heavily will become black or discolored as they begin to decay. They will also start to break, causing teeth to have an abnormal, jagged appearance. Additionally, the gums can begin to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth. Teeth can start to fall out because of the damage incurred, causing gaps in your smile.
Other Signs of Meth Mouth
While meth mouth has an extremely noticeable appearance, this condition has other signs. A foul odor is likely to occur as teeth begin to decay and infection develops, leading to severe bad breath. Debilitating tooth pain can occur from an infection. Additionally, an infection can cause lockjaw, a condition in which it is impossible to open the mouth, making eating and drinking very difficult until it is treated.
What Causes Meth Mouth?
Using meth heavily causes meth mouth because it causes chronic dry mouth. The lack of saliva changes the mouth’s acidity, creating an environment where enamel begins to break down, causing teeth to become more sensitive to bacteria. Meth can also cause people to clench or grind their teeth, leading to more stress on the teeth and increasing the likelihood of damage.
How Long Does It Take To Get Meth Mouth?
Meth mouth can begin to develop very quickly, with small cavities occurring in most people who use meth, even for a short period. One study of almost 600 people using meth showed that:
- 96% of meth users had cavities
- 58% of meth users had untreated tooth decay
- 31% of meth users had six or more missing teeth
Meth mouth is a condition that develops and slowly worsens over time. While the beginning of meth mouth can be unnoticeable, the time it takes to become obvious varies by individual.
How To Get Rid of Meth Mouth
Getting rid of meth mouth starts with stopping meth use. Trying to get rid of meth mouth while still using meth is almost pointless. Once meth use has been stopped, meth mouth will require dental treatment. Your dentist may use fillings to repair teeth and implants or dentures to replace missing teeth. Severe meth mouth will have some permanent effects; however, a good dentist can minimize these effects.
How To Prevent Meth Mouth
The one way to prevent meth mouth is not to use meth or, if you are using meth, to stop using it as soon as possible. If you are using meth, you may already have tooth damage you are unaware of. Seeing a dentist can help you treat this damage and indicate if meth mouth is starting to develop.
At The Recovery Village Columbus, we have extensive experience helping people overcome meth addiction. Our state-of-the-art facility provides a relaxing environment for detox and rehab services to help keep you from relapsing.
Overcoming a meth addiction can be very difficult, but professional help is here. Contact us to learn how we can help you safely and comfortably overcome meth addiction.
- Pabst, Andreas; Castillo-Duque, Juan Carlos; & et al. “Meth Mouth—A Growing Epidemic in Dentistry?” Dentistry Journal (Basel), December 2017. Accessed July 10, 2022.
- Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “Meth Mouth.” 2022. Accessed July 10, 2022.
- New York State Department of Health. “Tetanus (lockjaw).” February 2014. Accessed July 10, 2022.
- Lee, Hiu Ham; Sudhakara, Preethi; & et al. “Understanding the Basis of METH Mouth Us[…]cus mutans Infection.” mBio, March 2021. Accessed July 10, 2022.
- Mouth Healthy. “Meth Mouth: How Methamphetamine Use Affects Dental Health.” 2022. Accessed July 10, 2022.
- Colgate-Palmolive Company. “Treating Meth Mouth.” 2022. Accessed July 10, 2022.
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