Methamphetamine – meth for short – is a dangerous illicit drug. According to the 2015 Survey on Drug Use and Health, 5.4 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have used the drug in their lifetimes. This drug has many negative health effects for its users, including dental problems. The dental problems associated with meth use are known as "meth teeth." If you're concerned your loved one may be using meth, their teeth can provide clues.
How Meth Affects the Teeth
Meth is very damaging to users' dental health, explains the American Dental Association (ADA). People who use meth can have teeth that are blackened and stained. The teeth may also be rotting or falling apart. This visible damage is a sign of extensive tooth decay. The teeth of meth users may be so damaged that they need to be removed.
Severe tooth decay is extremely common among meth users. A December 2015 study, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, examined the mouths of 571 people who used meth. Of the people studied, 96 percent had cavities and 58 percent had untreated tooth decay. Thirty-one percent had trismus (commonly known as lockjaw).
Why Meth Affects the Teeth
There are a few different reasons why meth has such a serious effect on users' teeth. One reason is that meth decreases the flow of saliva and leads to xerostomia (dry mouth). Saliva helps wash food particles and bacteria off the teeth. Without enough saliva, plaque and bacteria can build up quickly and people become more at risk of tooth decay.
Poor oral hygiene is another contributing factor to meth teeth. People who are using meth may neglect their oral hygiene routines, which lets plaque and bacteria build up on their teeth. These bacteria produce acids, and the acids can create pits in the tooth enamel. Over time, the pits in the enamel get larger and a cavity forms. This is why it's so important to brush twice a day with your Colgate 360 toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. A Colgate 360 toothbrush is uniquely designed to clean your teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums simultaneously while your brush.
Encouraging Your Loved One to Seek Help
If you suspect your loved one is using meth, encourage them to seek help. In the United States, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration's information service at 1-800-662-HELP for more information. The service is free and confidential. You can get referrals to local treatment facilities for your loved one.
Meth is a dangerous drug, and it's very harmful to users' teeth. If you're concerned your loved one is using meth, help them seek treatment right away.