Article at a Glance:
- Meth mouth is an unpleasant oral disease caused by meth use.
- Meth mouth is irreversible, unpleasant and expensive to treat.
- Stopping meth use is the best way to avoid meth mouth problems.
Table of Contents
Early Stages of Meth Mouth
One of the common signs of long-term methamphetamine addiction is tooth decay. Using meth causes an abuser’s teeth to first stain, then decay and eventually fall out as early as one year into abusing meth.
According to the American Dental Association, research shows that out of a large sampling of meth users:
- 96% had cavities
- 58% had untreated tooth decay
- 31% had six or more missing teeth
Unfortunately, most people who use meth will experience meth mouth to some degree, and many will have severe effects. However, research by The Recovery Village found the more you use meth, the higher your risk: heavy meth users were over four times more likely than others to get meth mouth in general and three times more likely to get broken teeth in particular. The method of use also mattered: people who smoked meth were three times more likely to get meth mouth than people who used other methods.
Although oral hygiene symptoms are some of the most common side effects of methamphetamine abuse, the drug carries many other side effects.
Other symptoms of meth abuse and addiction include:
- Formication (The sensation of insects crawling under your skin)
- Weight loss
- Permanent brain damage
- Sores, infection and other skin problems
How Long Does It Take to Get Meth Mouth?
Within one year of using the notorious street drug methamphetamine, users can develop the oral hygiene symptoms commonly known as “meth mouth” — a frightening case of extensive oral damage, tooth decay and gum disease. Meth mouth is incurable and, in many cases, can lead to tooth extraction and extensive dental work.
Meth Mouth Symptoms
The severity of meth mouth differs from one person to the next. While some people addicted to meth may lose several teeth from decay and gum disease, other meth users may only suffer from a few cavities.
Some of the most common symptoms of meth mouth include:
- Gum disease
- Red, swollen gums
- Tooth decay
- Clenching or grinding of teeth
- Cravings for sugary drinks
- Inconsistent oral hygiene
Why Does Crystal Meth Rot Your Teeth?
Methamphetamine causes dryness of the mouth, called xerostomia, reducing the natural protection that helps the teeth to maintain their healthy enamel. Without this defense, teeth can easily decay. In addition, meth intensifies cravings for sugary drinks, sodas, and foods that contribute to significant damage to the teeth.
Because of its addictive nature, methamphetamine can cause users to neglect daily hygiene routines. That specifically includes brushing teeth. Methamphetamine also causes anxiety and nervousness, resulting in users grinding and clenching their teeth, which wears down the already fragile teeth.
Meth Mouth Treatment
Meth mouth is irreversible, so treatment centers around repairing the damage that has been done. Depending on the level of corrosion and decay, users may need teeth extractions, implants and even dentures to reconstruct what once was. Those fortunate enough to have less damage from meth use may only need cavities filled or some root canals.
Overall, to prevent further damage, experts urge users to seek help and stop misusing methamphetamine. Full recovery is dependent on detoxification, rehabilitation, improved dietary habits and improved oral hygiene.
Recovering From Meth Addiction
Recovery from meth addiction can be difficult, but it is possible. While there are no medications specifically designed to treat meth withdrawal, many medications can make the process more comfortable. There are also different techniques to help someone stop using meth, such as tapering meth use, stopping under medical supervision (called medical detox), and using therapies to help alleviate some of the effects of withdrawal.
Recovery from meth addiction typically involves two processes. The initial phase involves detoxing and getting through the initial withdrawal symptoms, which can be more severe and unpleasant. An addiction recovery center can help someone stay as comfortable as possible during this phase and help ensure they don’t give up as they are starting to see success.
The second stage of recovery involves making long-term strides towards maintaining the sobriety that you have achieved. This can involve participating in therapies that help you to understand the root of the addiction and creating a plan to avoid using meth in the future.
Meth addiction can be a tough journey to face alone, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ample resources available to help find treatment and recovery centers for those struggling with an addiction. If you or someone you know is suffering from meth addiction, don’t be afraid to seek help; contact the Recovery Village today.
American Dental Association. “Meth Mouth: How Methamphetamine Use Affects Dental Health.” 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse?” April 13, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.
- Medical Disclaimer
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.