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Meth mouth

  Meth mouth is an informal name for advanced tooth decay attributed to heavy methamphetamine use. According to the American Dental Association, meth mouth "is probably caused by a combination of drug-induced psychological and physiological changes resulting in xerostomia (dry mouth), extended periods of poor oral hygiene, frequent consumption of high calorie, carbonated beverages and tooth grinding and clenching."[1]

Characteristics include:

  • xerostomia (dry mouth): Methamphetamine use may decrease the production of saliva. A lack of saliva's natural protective effects directly leads to increased tooth decay, particularly at the gumline. Many users also smoke tobacco or consume highly sugared soft drinks, worsening the problem.
  • cracked teeth: Methamphetamine induces clenching and grinding of the teeth, leading to wear or cracks.
  • neglect of oral hygiene: This is likely among the most important causes of poor oral health among methamphetamine users. After a prolonged binge, users may sleep for a day or more with their mouths open, exacerbating the problems of poor saliva supply.

Meth mouth is "difficult to distinguish" from a simple case of poor oral hygiene.[2] Dentists are advised to look for "unaccounted for and accelerated decay in teenagers and young adults" and "malnourished appearance in heavy users, because methamphetamine acts as an appetite suppressant."[1]

Contrary to a number of media reports, meth mouth's contributing causes do not include a "corrosive", "acidic", or "caustic" effect of the drug itself on tooth enamel or gum tissue. Jack Shafer of Slate magazine has written a series of articles disputing the role of "chemical" or "contaminant" factors in causing meth mouth.


  1. ^ a b Methamphetamine Use (Meth Mouth). American Dental Association. Retrieved on 2006-12-16.
  2. ^ Sedensky, Matt. "Users see effects of 'meth mouth'", Lawrence Journal-World, 2005-02-06. Retrieved on 2006-12-16. 
  • Richards, J.R., Brofeldt, B.T. Patterns of tooth wear associated with methamphetamine use. J Periodontol. 2000 Aug; 71(8):1371–4.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Meth_mouth". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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