Study Shows High Rate of Dental Disease in Methamphetamine Users

A study on the dental state of methamphetamine users revealed large amounts of tooth decay and cavities in the 571 patients examined.

The study, published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, was a collaboration of eight professors from the UCLA School of Dentistry, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and UCLA Integrate Substance Abuse Program. They found that over 96 percent of the meth users observed had cavities and 58 percent had untreated tooth decay. A mere 23 percent retained all their natural teeth. Patients over the age of 30 displayed more severe cases of dental disease. Female users exhibited higher rates of cavities and tooth loss.

The researchers also looked at the state of the users' gums. More than 89 percent of male users were suffering from periodontitis, a gum infection that often leads to tooth loss. Female users had an 85 percent rate of periodontitis.

Participants in the study were predominantly male and cigarette smokers. More than half of the contributors were classified as moderate or heavy meth users after admitting to meth use on at least four of the previous 30 days.

The authors are already preparing a follow-up that will inspect the dental diseases of those who live in similar sociodemographic environments but do not use meth.

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