Meth Mouth Stages: How Meth Abuse Leads To Dental Decay

Meth mouth is an effect of long-term meth abuse. The early stages of meth mouth may not be readily apparent, but continued meth abuse can have many consequences on a person’s oral and dental health. Treatment for meth addiction can work to reverse or treat this damage.

Meth mouth is just one of several negative side effects caused by methamphetamine drug addiction.

The condition is characterized by severe tooth decay from meth and gum disease that leads to teeth that rot, break, and fall out at the root.

The remaining teeth appear stained or blackened in appearance. These effects are due, in part, to exposure to acidic chemicals contained in methamphetamine.

Tooth decay that seems to rapidly get worse may be a sign of meth abuse.

Learn how crystal meth use leads to tooth decay, the stages of meth mouth, and available treatment options for meth abuse.

What Is Meth Mouth?

Meth mouth is a term used to describe several dental health symptoms including tooth decay, gum disease, and damage to other sensitive tissues.

Damage often extends to the tongue, tonsils, and lips. The damage caused by meth exposure is often permanent and irreversible. However, treating the substance abuse disorder can help to slow the progression of these issues.

One study by UCLA found that more than half of people who used meth had cavities, untreated tooth decay, and periodontal disease.

Further, only 23% of people with addictions to meth have all of their natural teeth, as proper dental treatment is typically neglected and symptoms worsen with more drug use.

Depending on the level of severity, dental work may include fillings, crowns, extractions, implants, or even dentures.

These health care treatments may cost thousands of dollars. Ultimately, the best course of treatment for meth mouth is to treat meth drug abuse.

Stages Of Meth Mouth: How Meth Abuse Leads To Meth Mouth

Meth mouth progresses in highly visible stages. Dentists, family members, and friends should be concerned if they notice someone with accelerated and extensive tooth decay.

Important signs and symptoms of meth mouth include:

  • teeth that are discolored, broken, and rotting
  • missing teeth
  • inflamed gums
  • oral sores

Meth mouth develops in these progressive stages:

1. Bad breath, cavities, and inflamed gums happen first.

2. As tooth decay and oral damage increase, gums recede from the gum line and lips develop sores (meth sores).

3. Teeth eventually break and fall out. Tissue damage may extend to the tonsils, tongue, and lips.

Factors That Affect Meth Mouth Progression

Methamphetamine abuse causes these changes in several ways.

Research frequently shows the acidic chemical qualities of meth and poor oral hygiene are the main contributors to meth mouth.

However, other lesser-known factors, such as dry mouth, teeth grinding, and sugary foods and drinks, also leave the mouth susceptible to dental disease.

Meth mouth may be caused by a combination of the following:

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Meth abuse affects the salivary glands and decreases the presence of protective saliva in the mouth.

Saliva is an important function of the mouth, as it prevents tooth decay and bacterial growth. Without proper saliva production, the mouth is much more susceptible to complications and infections.

Teeth Grinding

Methamphetamine use can lead to the development of jaw clenching and teeth grinding, which gradually breaks down the enamel of teeth.

Drug Additives

The acidic contents of the addictive drug are derived from battery acid, antifreeze, Hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, and other hazardous chemicals.

These chemicals are extremely damaging to both oral and overall health.

Lack Of Dental Hygiene

People who use meth often do not practice good oral hygiene.

Because they’re fixated on buying and using the drug, oral health may be neglected entirely, including brushing teeth and flossing.

Overuse Of Sugary Foods And Drinks

Meth abuse leads to cravings for high-carbohydrate foods and carbonated beverages that are high in sugar content.

Long-lasting effects of meth, upwards of 12 hours and more, lead to long periods where teeth are damaged by sugary and acidic conditions in the mouth.

Other Effects Of Meth Abuse

The damaging effects of methamphetamine substance use are not limited to dental problems.

The drug degrades the personal life and physical health of the person who abuses meth as well. The overall effects of meth abuse are profoundly destructive.

Weight loss from meth use, skin lesions, high blood pressure, brain damage from meth abuse, and heart failure are just a few health problems caused by meth use.

Mental health issues attributed to meth abuse include depression, hyperactivity, anxiety, intense rage, meth psychosis, and delusions.

People who abuse meth often encounter legal issues that include jail time, job loss, financial issues leading to homelessness, and exposure to other dangerous criminal activity.

Treatment Options For Meth Addiction

Prioritizing dental care is just one important aspect of treating meth mouth. To find sustained recovery, it’s essential to recover from drug use.

Meth addiction is challenging to overcome alone. But with professional help and admission to an addiction treatment program, you or your loved one can recover.

Spring Hill Recovery Center offers detox services, inpatient rehab, outpatient programs, and aftercare services as a preventive measure against relapse.

If you have questions about rehab centers in Massachusetts that treat meth addiction, call our helpline and talk to a treatment specialist today.

  1. American Dental Association — Methamphetamine use and oral health
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Methamphetamine DrugFacts
  3. The Journal of the American Dental Association — Dental Disease Prevalence among Methamphetamine and Poly-drug Users in an Urban Setting: A Pilot Study
  4. UCLA Newsroom — UCLA study clarifies the oral consequences of methamphetamine abuse

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (978) 321-2696
(978) 321-2696