Meth mouth is a condition caused by extreme or prolonged dry mouth, a side effect of using of the illegal substance crystal methamphetamine. Crystal methamphetamine is also called meth, glass, speed, and the smokable form of it is called "ice" because of its look. Meth can be snorted, eaten, smoked, and injected. A few years ago a police officer in Oregon decided to do a program called the "Faces of Meth" because he saw the incredible physical transformation of people who were arrested and testing positive for crystal meth. It sucks the life right out of you.
Meth mouth is a deterioration of a user's teeth and gums. There are ways to prevent meth mouth once it is mainly caused by prolonged dry mouth. The teeth can become blackened, stained, and/or start to rot and crumble from methamphetamine use. There is no time frame that this happens in and it is not only chronic users who experience it. Dentists suspect meth mouth is caused by a combination of factors. The first of these meth mouth risk factors is chronic dry mouth. Saliva is a protector of teeth and gums, so when it is consistently gone the teeth will start to break down. As well, persons who are using crystal meth might not take great care of their hygiene although this is very much a generalization. You cannot assume that someone with poor hygiene and teeth is using methamphetamine or any other drug. Thinking that you know everything about a person based on their looks is only ignorance. The lack of concern or plain forgetfulness a crystal meth user experiences will contribute to the problem. Crystal users tend to have trouble with linear time. Another factor is that people who use meth will reduce or stop eating. When they are coming down they crash, which consists of sleeping, eating and withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how far down the line the addict or drug abuser has gotten, he or she may not eat very well or have much food.
Is crystal meth the only drug that causes meth mouth?
Crystal meth is not the only drug that causes this problem. Prescription drugs like Adderall can cause the same symptoms, but meth is the biggest culprit. Drugs that are categorized as stimulants tend to cause increased body temperature, raise blood pressure and cause severe dry mouth. It is the dry mouth that can lead to more bacteria and tooth decay. Saliva protects the teeth, gums, and mouth. Meth users also tend to grind their teeth a lot. This constant grinding breaks the teeth down, along with enamel, and causes pain in the jaw. Users also are in a state of constant dehydration and will drink whatever is available, oftentimes this can be soda, Koolaid, beer, and other not so healthy drinks, which can be full of sugar. Addicts are usually intertwined with sugar somehow. Even after quitting meth there can still be dental problems to tackle.
Although meth mouth can be a sign of crystal meth use, it is by no means the only identifier. As well, not every crystal meth user will have it, as this is a stereotype perpetuated by the media. Just like anything else there is a spectrum that meth mouth falls into, so some people can experience increased dental cavities all the way to black nubs of nerve exposed teeth that are falling out. If you are using crystal meth or something else like Ritalin, Adderall, other uppers/stimulants then you should try to take as many steps as possible to protect your teeth. Ritalin, Adderall, Cylert, Dexedrine, and other stimulants also cause the meth mouth phenomenon and can make your teeth crumble and cause other dental weaknesses. If you can take steps to stop grinding teeth that will help. Harm reduction is always the first action.
Do not make fun of the person who has this condition. Run your tongue along your own teeth and think about how important they are to your overall well-being, to your self-esteem, and imagine if you had a disease that robbed you of a once beautiful smile.
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