'Meth mouth' can leave users toothless



As in the photo, some meth users describe their teeth as "blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling or falling apart." Often, the teeth cannot be salvaged and must be extracted.
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CHICAGO, September 21, 2006 – Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive drug that can seriously damage oral health, destroying a person's smile and natural ability to chew, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

More than 12-million Americans have tried methamphetamine (also known as meth, crank, crystal and speed), which can be swallowed, injected, snorted or smoked, according to the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The majority of users range between 18 and 34 years of age.

"Meth" users can go from having healthy teeth to extremely sensitive teeth and eventual tooth loss in about a year, warns the ADA. This condition is often called "meth mouth."

"Meth mouth robs people, especially young people of their teeth and frequently leads to full-mouth extractions and a lifetime of wearing dentures, says Robert M. Brandjord, ADA president. "Meth mouth is characterized by rampant tooth decay and teeth described by meth users as blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling or falling apart."

Dr. Brandjord explains, "The extensive tooth decay of meth mouth is attributed to the drug's dry-mouth effect and its propensity to cause cravings for high-calorie carbonated beverages, tooth grinding and clenching, and extended periods of poor oral hygiene."

"Very few people understand the broad dangers methamphetamine poses to the public health of our communities in addition to meth users themselves," says Stephen Pasierb, president and CEO, The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. "The ADA's warning should serve as a wake-up call to those who use this insidious drug as well as family and friends who are witness to this behavior, but not powerless to intervene and get the user the help they need. There is no safe level of meth use, but treatment and recovery are possible."

In an effort to highlight this condition, the ADA has posted educational materials on its Web site www.ada.org for both dentists and patients and recently distributed a video news release with The Partnership for a Drug-Free America at http://www.drugfree.org/meth.

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The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing more than 153,000 members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer and professional products. For more information about the ADA, visit the Association's Web site at www.ada.org.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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