The UK and USA are two of the biggest drug-taking nations in the world. Both countries have problems with drug addiction among the population and indulge in similar substances such as cocaine, opiates and meth.

Although meth use isn’t as common here in the UK when compared to the US, tens of thousands still use it here, and it can have a devastating on your life. One of the most obvious physical consequences of the drug is developing something known as methamphetamine mouth.

Meth mouth is a very unpleasant side-effect of chronic meth use. If you are worried about it you should know what causes it, the signs to look out and how to avoid it.

What is Methamphetamine Mouth?

Methamphetamine mouth is the name for the poor dental health and tooth decay that happens if you are a chronic user of meth. The teeth will become, stained, blackening and look like they are falling apart.

It is one of the most notable consequences of meth use due to the mouth always being visible. Meth mouth is caused by several consequences of using the drug, including the chemical makeup of methamphetamine, the lifestyle of the individual using meth, and the side effects it causes.

It may not be a unique condition, as other drugs can cause damage to your teeth, but it is most commonly associated with methamphetamine use. When it comes to showing the dangers of meth, the media uses meth mouth as a big reason why you shouldn’t take the drug.

Signs of Methamphetamine Mouth

If you are worried about developing meth mouth, then you should know the signs of it. The severity of it will not be the same for everyone, so even if you have yet to show signs, it could still occur and eventually cause irreversible damage to your oral health.

Here are the common signs of methamphetamine mouth to be on the lookout for:

  • Bad breath
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Gum diseases, such as gingivitis.
  • Pain when you eat
  • Tooth decay
  • Cracked teeth
  • Teeth falling out
  • Lockjaw
  • Cavities
  • Dry mouth
  • Black, rotting teeth
  • Teeth grinding and clenching

What Causes Meth Mouth?

There are many direct and indirect causes of methamphetamine mouth.

Dry Mouth

Use of meth causes xerostomia, otherwise known as dry mouth or cottonmouth. Methamphetamine reduces the production of saliva. Though this doesn’t sound like a big problem, saliva is needed to wash away food debris and get rid of bacteria. Without saliva, your teeth are unprotected, and bacteria can build up.

Chemical Properties of Methamphetamine

Pure meth is not acidic, but the meth you buy on the street will include acidic substances such as battery acid, household chemical cleaners and fertilizer. Acidic compounds will damage tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities.

Physical Side Effects of Meth

Using meth will cause you to grind your teeth and clench your mouth. This will damage your teeth, leading to chipping, breaking and eventually falling out.

Habits of a Meth User

Once in the addiction, meth users let other things fall away. As highs can last hours, oral hygiene gets forgotten about. The drug will cause you to crave sugary things and many users live on a diet of fizzy drinks, sweets and high-calorie foods.

Risk Factors of Developing Methamphetamine Mouth

There are several risk factors for meth mouth that can make developing the problem a foregone conclusion.

Meth Addiction

Using meth once won’t instantly result in incurable dental problems. Usually, within a year of steady use of the drug will lead to you developing the symptoms linked to meth mouth. The more you use the drug and the amount you use, the more you increase the chance of methamphetamine mouth occurring.

Individual Health

If you are in poor health already, your body’s ability to combat progressive health issues will be lessened. Also, if you already struggle with bad dental health then it won’t take as long for meth to make the situation worse.

Your Environment

If you are in an environment that encourages drug use, it’s more likely to occur. You also may not be lucky to have quick access to dental care and do not get regular check-ups. Without these, you might not be aware of how bad your teeth are getting before it’s too late.

Health Implications of Methamphetamine Mouth

Having poor teeth, whilst unpleasant, doesn’t sound life-threatening. There are greater implications of meth mouth that can affect you in both the short and long term.

As meth mouth causes pain when you eat, you may develop a poor appetite. Lack of nutrition can lead to overall poor health as you need a healthy diet to function properly. You also need food to keep up your energy and your brain working efficiently.

Cavities and tooth decay can lead to tooth abscesses, which are bacterial infections that can lead to more life-threatening infections.

Meth mouth can also have an impact on your mental health. Even if you go to a private drug and alcohol rehab, get clean and start living a better life your teeth may still look bad. Because of this, you may suffer from self-esteem issues, isolate yourself, and develop anxiety and depression that could be life-threatening.

How to Prevent Meth Mouth

The best way to prevent meth mouth is to get ahead of the problem. If you are currently using meth, reach out and seek treatment within a drug rehab before the situation worsens.

Even during recovery, there are plenty of things you can do to help you prevent meth mouth.

  • Practise good oral hygiene – clean your teeth twice a day and floss daily
  • Have regular dental check-ups
  • Educate yourself on meth addiction and oral hygiene – learn more about dental health from the Oral Health Foundation
  • Drink water
  • Chew sugar-free gum to encourage saliva production

Treatment Options for Meth Mouth

If methamphetamine mouth has made it so treatment is needed, options are available to you if the damage cannot be reversed.

Dental treatment and procedures such as fillings, extractions and implants can help correct issues and make your teeth more presentable.

Attending a crystal meth rehab is also vital. The damage might already be done to your teeth but not stopping taking meth will only make it worse. Making use of medical professionals during recovery is so important as they have been there and seen it all. Dentists can offer advice and help you deal with your oral health issues alongside the help you get from addiction specialists.

As part of a comprehensive treatment programme, you need to deal with the whole. Therapies and well-being treatments can help you with the psychological side of your addiction and dental problems – helping you live a more fulfilling, less shame-filled life.

Resources and Support Systems

At Ocean Recovery, we have the resources to help with your meth addiction. We provide complete detox programmes and an effective treatment plan that includes various forms of therapies in a calm and reassuring environment.

Beyond rehab, we emphasise support systems. As part of aftercare, you can attend group support meetings. These meetings and other forms of counselling can help you feel less isolated and more confident about your future.

Get Support Today

Methamphetamine mouth is a distressing problem that you put yourself at greater risk of getting by regularly using meth. If you are worried about your meth addiction and want to know how we treat addiction at Ocean Recovery, get in touch today. You can reach us by calling 08008807596.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: June 14, 2024

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.