Seven Ways Meth Ruins Your Teeth

Seven Ways Meth Ruins Your Teeth

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Meth Ruins Teeth
©Sylvie Bouchard/Shutterstock.com

Before I came to dental school, I worked at a dental clinic that served those with little or no financial resources.  I remember vividly a young woman in her twenties who had to have all of her teeth extracted.  All of her teeth had extensive decay.  She had used methamphetamine for years before coming to see us.  We were able to make her dentures.  While the dentures worked great, they simply aren’t the same as natural teeth.

Commonly known as crystal meth, meth, crank, speed, glass, or over 100 other different names, methamphetamine can literally ruin your mouth in a very short time.

Seven Ways Methamphetamine Ruins Your Teeth

Blue Crystal Methamphetamine1 – It dries out your mouth. -Methamphetamine directly inhibits saliva flow from the salivary glands.  The saliva offers a lot of protection to the teeth, something I recently wrote about in an article called How Saliva Protects Your Teeth.   In short, when the saliva stops flowing, the teeth are left without many defenses.

2 – Crystal meth gives the user a prolonged “high,” which often causes them to pass out. Meth users have a tendency to pass out frequently.  When they pass out, they are breathing through their mouth, which dries out the mouth.  And without saliva circulating in the mouth, the teeth are at risk.

3 – Meth is acidic by nature. This has been debated.  Some people say that meth isn’t acidic.  Some say it is. Pure methamphetamine is NOT acidic, but most street meth contains acidic byproducts.  For example, the most common method of manufacturing meth in the United States is the Red, White, and Blue Method.  This method of methamphetamine synthesis produces hydroiodic acid.  Other acids can be made as byproducts depending on how the methamphetamine is synthesized.

If only those that manufacture meth knew about the devastating effects of acid on the teeth — they’d probably be sure to only sell you pure methamphetamine!

4 – Meth users clench their teeth a lot. Many meth users are anxious and paranoid, mostly due to the effects of the drug on their body.  When they clench their teeth, they are grinding away valuable tooth structure that has already been weakened due to the other effects of meth mentioned in this article.

Blue Crystal Methamphetamine

5 – Meth gives the user a craving for sugary, carbonated drinks. Since the methamphetamine buydiazepamsite.com dries out their mouth, meth users often try to alleviate this side effect by reaching for soda or energy drinks.  This only adds insult to injury for their teeth, as pointed out in the article Nine Drinks That Can Dissolve Your Teeth.

6 – Meth destroys the enamel. It does this by causing cavities to form and by releasing toxic chemicals that damage the teeth.  In the book Treatment Planning in Dentistry by Stefanac and Nesbit it says:

“Meth mouth” typically begins with the yellowing of the user’s teeth and rapidly deteriorating enamel “flaking” off from the underlying tooth structure. Repeated use of the drug eventually leaves the user’s teeth looking grayish-brown or black stained, decayed to the gum line, and often nonrestorable. The rapid destruction of tooth enamel is thought to be a result of the heated vapors released by toxic chemicals produced while smoking methamphetamine.

7 – Meth Addicts are concerned about how to get their next high, not about their oral health. If you’re addicted to meth, then you probably spend a great deal of time, energy, and money supporting this habit.  Those with addictions of this nature are unlikely to be seeking routine dental care or even brushing and flossing regularly.

Conclusion

Methamphetamine causes significant harm to the teeth no matter how it is taken.  If methamphetamine is smoked, it is much more harmful for the teeth than when injected.  The book Primary Preventive Dentistry by Norman Harris says this about how methamphetamine is used:

It is thought that smokers [of methamphetamine] have worse dental effects, because the chemicals are brought in direct contact with the oral cavity, causing sores and infections. Injectors of methamphetamine do not experience the same severe tooth decay; however, they do experience more severe clenching and grinding. The increased bruxism is attributed to the more powerful effects of the injected drug.

If you or someone you know is addicted to methamphetamine, try to get help as soon as possible.  Methamphetamine doesn’t just affect the teeth, it affects the whole body.

Here’s a good article from Minnesota Public Radio about Ryan Hintz, a recovering meth addict, about how he is overcoming the addiction.

If you have any questions or comments about methamphetamine and dental health, please leave them in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

45 COMMENTS

  1. I have a bunch of friends that do meth, and they ended up leaving our university b/c of bad grades. I have tried it once, but I really didn’t want to get into drugs a lot. Its crazy how much they can mess up your teeth

      • Hi brush my teeth everyday but there like lil cracks in my teeth do to that I used to use meth wat can I do about that how can I cure it

  2. I am 30 years old and a recovering meth addict. I have been clean for about 2 years. My next step in my recovery is to get my teeth fixed. I have broken and chipped front teeth, and my back top and bottom are pretty much gone. Do you know if there are any programs to help recovering meth addicts with dental help?

    • Hi Jesse – First of all, congratulations on being clean for 2 years! Addictions of any sort are very difficult to overcome – I’m sure it took a lot of willpower.

      Unfortunately, I am unaware of any dental programs for recovering meth addicts. If you have a low income, I know that there are dental programs that can help. From time to time, dentists also offer free clinics to help people who cannot afford dental care.

      Before I came to dental school, I volunteered in a clinic that offered free dental services (in exchange for community service.) It was associated with a city soup kitchen.

      I am not sure what’s available in your area, but if you look around, you may be able to find something. Good luck, Jesse. Thank you for your comment, and please let us know if you find out anything related to former meth addicts and low-cost dental care.

  3. I used meth for 30 years until 3 years ago when i was taken out in an ambulance with 0 to 12% chance to live. I had ARDS with secondary phenumonia. I have been in recovery for three years. I have acquired a GED and part time job 12 hours a week. I have a port forlio of all the groups I have completed and all that I have accomplished since I have been in recovery. I have been getting tooth by tooth filled from paycheck to paycheck. So far, I have had three teeth filled but cannot afford to have them capped. I still have several other teeth that need the same as well as a dental guard to sleep at night to prevent further damage. I was wondering if there is any program that will help me financially to complete much needed dental work.

    • Hi Judy – Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you are recovering and getting back on your feet again. I’m sure it’s been a long, hard journey. I’m not aware of any programs that will help, but you could try contacting your local dental society to see if they know of anything. Just Google “[your state here] dental society” and you should be able to find your state dental society/association.

      I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

  4. I had a Q, i did meth bout 13yrs ago just a few times. a friend brought it by a few months ago and i have been doing it now and then, my q is that enough time 2 give me meth mouth? im not doig it anymore, the last time i noticed my teeth wer a lil yellow&sensitive, I had that before, but it just looked worse to me. I didnt know if it can happen that fast, i brush my teeth reg even on the stuff. Thank u so much.

  5. Concerning the Trayvon Martin case. In his most recent pictures he is seen with gold fillings at the gum line and at the top by the eye teeth. Point #1 was this caused by meth or crack. Point #2, how does he afford gold fillings or was he able to do this from profit of dealing crack or meth or his burglary proceeds. Nice innocent child as the media describes him

    • Why do people like you have to bring politics into everything? Just like you and everyone else, Trayvon Martin had good and bad qualities. I can only assume that you have serious issues of your own that you are trying to ignore by focusing on someone else’s faults. Here is a tip: Look in the mirror and judge who you see. Let everyone else live their life without your biased and imma ture judgments. You opinion is no more valid than anyone else’s, and no one wants to know or cares about your beliefs and opinions. The truth is all that matters, and you will only find half-truths and lies on BOTH sides of our corrupt and inept joke of a political system.

      By the way, this is an irrelevant political issue anyway. There are many more important issues that the American people miss because the media is constantly distracting us with divisive stories, such as the death of Trayvon Martin. Instead, it would be more beneficial if we focused on our economic and social issues and the shameful political corruption that is rampant in both parties. The trade agreement was way more important than this, and it had hardly any media coverage for precisely that reason! They want us to argue over issues that have no effect on anything of importance…

      I’ll ask you this: What would change in your world right now if you found out Trayvon smoked crack/meth? Lol … Of course, the answer is nothing. That’s precisely why they’d like you focusing on it. However, Trayvon was shot by a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH VOLUNTEER… It doesn’t matter what he was doing tbh. Zimmerman directly disobeyed an order from a 911 dispatcher, and then he murdered a man. I don’t support either side. I support the truth. In this case, Zimmerman instigated an altercation just because he was angry about a string of break-ins…

      In case you are confused, Dirty Harry was not a real person. You aren’t supposed to run around and pretend to be him because you got some shiny new neighborhood watch volunteer badge… But like always, politics Trumps (pun intended) both common sense and THE LAW in this country full of mindless zealots, such as yourself.

      Please stop splitting. (Psychology term… look it up if you’re unsure) It’s a very childish way to think. Also, mature people are able to look past their bias to see the truth. Immature fools are blinded by their beliefs so much that they wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped them in the face a thousand times like E. Honda. I’m going to guess that you’re the latter… lol.

    • My intelligence and vocabulary does not allow me to even formulate a rationale response to your beyond ignorant statement/paragraph…good luck to you.

  6. This is a very informative article to read.

    After a couple of months of using meth, my teeth started getting yellowish. Flossing and brushing after using it and sipping water all the time to help the dry mouth does not really stop my teeth from yellowing. I have decided to quit using meth because I would not trade my teeth for mere temporary pleasure.

    • Two weeks flat huh? What were you doing eating it?I very highly doubt this is remotely possible. Thank you for your highly obvious lack of information about this. Please go back and get a better lie. And I’m just throwing this out there in response to the article, that you have no idea what all or most meth users think. Not all of them are so messed up all the time all they do it tweak with 17 TV’s for five days. I would like to see scientific proof as to how exactly you know what most meth heads think. Surprisingly enough there are a lot of people that you would never think smokes dope. And it doesn’t help you just reassured someone that “hey don’t smoke it you will lose your teeth so shoot up” that it by far the stupidest thing I think iv ever seen on the internet. If you are going to say that then I suggest you include what shooting up does. That’s cute. Because obviously judging from “munching on meth Sally” I.Q levels are pretty low. So we have known for a while sugar is not good for your teeth anyhow, oranges have a natral acidity. A good portion of people breathe through their mouth, a lot of people have dry mouth. I didn’t see anything right there about pot heads. And let me tell you Cotton mouth sucks. I think you should re-word a lot of this

  7. Hahaha you stupid meth addicts should of stayed away from it….. now you all have bad teeth unless you have $$$ like me hehe you mad??

    #methaddicts/usersaredisgusting
    #teethprovideconfidence
    #oralhealthisawesome
    #seeadentistatleast3timesayear

    • aww U probably have never felt what love really feels like …seems to me u must be a spoiled selfish yuppie that has not a worrie in the world with all the $$ an prolly live life prolly hworrie about a dam thing. www lucky u . NOT YOU MUST BE very VERY IGNORANT kunt (i spell cunt with a k, I feel it makes it extremely disrespectful)! Well u must think only people that are lower class are p.o.s and ur a big deal cause u have never thought what it could poasibily be like to have an addiction.. GET OFF UR SELF u are a rich worthless maggot. I hope one day u will fells like To have some one act and talk to u the way u talk to people. U prolly can’t even fix ur car if u brake down GUESS WHAT???? I CAN AND I’M A PRETTY FEMALE !!! YES HAS A PROBLEM BUT I TAKE CARE OF MY SELF THE BEST I CAN good riddance u unloving selfish yuppie

      • If any one didn’t know My reply is for Floyd Mayweather so now ya know!
        if some uses they still have a heart and feelings REMEMBER THAT

        • I am just guessing here but, I don’t think that was actually Floyd Mayweather the boxer. Possibly, it was Floyd Mayweather the dude who works at the drive through at McD’s. But, makes crazy money ’cause he worked there for over a year and got that cost of living increase. He took all that McDonalds money and got the lease going on his smart car.

        • Lol. Don’t get offended by sad bullies, such as Mayweather. He has to insult others to avoid hating himself. It’s called acting out. Apparently he has the mentality of a troubled teen. Pity the fool, just like Mister T would have us do! Ahh… I miss the A-team…

      • Amen!!! Pretty here too and brush teeth religiously know meth mouth here but still a pretty addict who has college degree!!!

    • Oh yea, I’m sure they are so mad, and jealous of you Floyd!!! You freaking idiot… Your obviously just as big or bigger looser… Get a life freak.

    • I need help .. I’m young .. And its been a year. I’ve smoked it .. And I feel the effects in my smile teeth already .. I want and need and will stop … it its so hard . I need help.. I don’t want this to continue and its ruining my life. My grades have dropped. I’ve lost the love I had for almost everything.. I needd someone to help me. Tell me something .. Anything

  8. READ MY COMMENT.

    I have been a first cocaine and now crystal meth user for about five or six years now, and I found this article way too general. It pretty much doesn’t provide any science behind the actual breakdown of the oral cavity, the formation of “meth mouth.” Those reasons are really SO obvious…like, duh- stay hydrated. I mean really? Yeah, acid and sugar are bad for your teeth. We already know that. I don’t like the part about “meth causes cavities” and “releases toxic chemicals.” That is a waaaaay over-generalized sentence for a dentist, honey. Dry mouth is unhealthy, and damaging to the oral cavity, and must not be taken lightly. Usually when my mouth gets dry, its because i need to drink a glass of water. Or maybe throw a dash of salt in the glass to give me an electrolyte– which is a tiny important little element. (Its okay, you may have to google it.) That’ll get those fluids moving and lo and behold salivary glands just start back up pumping like magic! Next, Who hasn’t ever heard the term ‘dry mouth’??? So many medications cause dry mouth and “Dry Mouth” is explained by your doctor, or written on the friggin label on the back of your OTC drug. The only distinction I can give this article is the paragraph about smoking meth being the worst way of using that tears up the teeth. The first time I smoked meth I literally felt my teeth get slightly sensitive….I can to this day feel the smoke hit my front teeth when I smoke. I even open my jaw, form my lips into a circle around the mouthpiece of the pipe, no matter how stupid I look, and suck in the smoke that way so that I can’t feel it “hit” my front teeth first. I do not know how any meth mouthers cannot nor did not notice this sensation, and have enough common sense to start snorting or swallowing instead. I always “pass out” and sleep with my mouth closed. I never sleep with my mouth open…so I get that nice gooey coating that your body knows to put on your teeth during your sleep at night that helps to protect them. Why didn’t you mention that? I brush and floss my teeth and take care of them probably about as much as the average normal tooth-brushing adult. Maybe even more because I choose flossing and teeth cleaning instead of meth head face picking and skin digging. I highly recommend it fellow “junkies” who “don’t care” about our dental and just want to get high. Im a user, hell i accept that. Proud of all you recoveries! I am one. Totally laid down my drugs and got clean for a while and stayed clean. I tried it. I definitely want to live out the rest of my life clean. Ill start at age 40. i made an executive decision to go and get myself an eight ball. Manage your habit or it’ll manage you. Peace.

      • Um, yes… but it’s not safer for the rest of your body, lol. Just trust me on this… Quit using meth! I used it 1 year and it took me 10 to recover until I felt like myself again. Meth is the most destructive drug on the planet, and it will destroy you if you let it. Get help if you feel meth is something you need. If you really feel that way, then you need to look at your past because you have unresolved childhood/teenage issues that you’re avoiding by numbing and distracting your mind. Fix those, and the meth will actually make you feel bad because you’re already happy sober. Good luck!

    • Hi there! So I’m worried about hurting my teeth, I dabble with coke and meth but I have pretty much all crowns on top. I only snort it. Will this affect my gums and teeth if I don’t smoke it?

    • Yes youngandsharp many medications cause dry mouth. I take the well advertised Lyrica for nerve pain and it dries my mouth out very bad. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Me Myself and Irene starring Jim Carrey? He takes a psychoactive medication which dries his mouth out so bad that his lips fold under and stick. Sometimes I feel like mine does that. I took neurontin before the Lyrica and it was worse. Before my injury and becoming disabled I had the desire to write grants to the United Way or my state drug and alcohol board in order to fund a program to fund dental work in order to help recovering addicts to get their teeth fixed. I had to get an upper denture when I was 25 because my ex husband punched me in the mouth causing nerve damage to my front teeth which made them darken. Therefore, I can relate to people with dental problems. Perhaps some of you in recovery can research the grant idea and start a program like I described and others had questions about. I have lost family members due to drug use and have a good friend in recovery thats gotten her nursing liscense and has become a highly respected community member. She saud it was the hardest thing she’ s ever done. Much love and prayers for every suffering addict. To the smartass slinging stupid remarks…I guaranter has something he’s very ashamed of and hiding. Hes putting others down to make himself feel better for just a second. He’s a cowardly extremely insecure person. I hope he gets the help he needs also.

    • I think u may have answered what I came here to find, but to claify… even If I use meth, as long as I keep my normal dental cleaning practices, my mother won’t get all messed up so quick like “other” people have? I’m noticing pain, but I’m pretty positive that’s from the grinding of my teeth, cause when I don’t use for a few days that stops. I don’t smoke it either. At this point I just wanna know that I can snort meth AND keep my teeth.

  9. Annnnnd. Tom, your from virginia? I’m from southwest virginia and I’m sure you know of the drug “issue” here that all the know it all too good for you pushers of the system lay upon people that honestly don’t care or want change due to the legalities of what they “allegedly” did. But hey go America right? Clean and dover thanks to the system for a year now.

  10. I wonder how much of a change in behavior and modification of lifestyle choices come as a result when Mr. and/or Mrs. John Q Meth Addict first experiences (and probably also simultaneously hates) that moment of clarity when the aforementioned makes the connection between their drug use and the fact that lately they’ve began to notice that the subtle and complex aromas, nuances and fragrances of their dogs poop have been smelling better than or equal to the funk wafting from their mouth and teeth 🙁 THat’s gotta be one of those D’OH! Moments….. No bueno my meth addicted brethren, most of whom probably aren’t reading this due to the likelihood they got side tracked half way through the paragraph and are now stuck on the unimportant details of a less important and repetitive task that will ultimately — oh sweet irony — go unfinished anyways.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s installment of:
    “The Unnecessary and modestly humorous observations of Mr. Unidentified Internet creature #3.14159265359”
    Bidding you So Long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen and Sayonara. until we meet again with a new rant on a new topic in the endless ocean of URL’s that we call the Outernet 😉

    • That was mildly annoying more than humorous tbh. I appreciate the effort, but it was just an incorrect observation. First of all, a true meth addict wouldn’t care enough about their health to think about the smell of their mouth. Secondly, they have a dulled sense of smell due to snorting or smoking meth. (If they IV, then they still will be so out of it to the point of not noticing smells anyway.) So, in reality, they wouldn’t be thinking about anything you said. They’d be thinking only one thing, “Where can I get my next fix?!?!?” And I can say this from personal experience over the course of a year when I was younger. When I was a meth addict, everything I did for that whole year that I was using was done simply because the end result was me getting meth. If you lived in the hell that meth creates for you, (or loved a family member who had this addiction) then you wouldn’t find anything you said even remotely funny. Nevermind the fact that the best humor is based on truthful observations. I can say that your humor was not based on truth or personal observations. It was merely your musings on a topic you do not understand.

      On top of all this, meth addiction is a serious public health issue. While I greatly appreciate dark, offensive and crude humor, I do not find anything funny about people seriously hurting others or themselves. Meth causes people to hurt themselves AND others. So it’s not really a good topic in which to find humor…

  11. This story breaks my heart. Basically all this article says is that meth users need to take better care of their mouths, and buy themselves some biotine do they don’t get dry mouth. Also, being dehydrated and having dry mouth is a side affect of lots of legit meds. I’m convinced that it’s a combination from teeth grinding, heat from the pipe, and dry mouth: Rverything else you wrote was just there to insult “druggies” as you call them. Many of these people have mental illness:

  12. I found this article and the “on-topic” comments, somewhat useful. As for the “off topic comments”.. ur gonna get that anywhere. I’m not offended by “junkie”, it’s a word used to describe-an it’s what we are. Whatever.
    My question Tom: If I’m gonna snort meth anyway. Can I still keep my teeth. And keep them healthy and “normal” as long as I do the normal tooth care guidlines? I actually care for my teeth MORE now that I’m using. Brush more. Floss alot, ect.. I’m figuring the extra dental time while using equalls the ‘brushing every morning and not much else’ while not using. It’s not exact, but that’s the idea.
    Thanks.
    (Ps. To those of you offended by the comments of those who have never been in our situation… just know thats just an ignorant persons way of discriminating against any user as a whole. Not there fault there so uneducated and closed-minded. Do you. Screw them.)

  13. I am a school nurse and have suspicions about some children’s parents who may be meth addicts or even use their house as a lab. A couple of these kids have overwhelming numbers of dental cavities. Is it possible that second hand or even third hand smoke/residue are manifesting in these childrens’ mouths?

  14. Hey Tom I appreciate your time invested in informing the public about this addiction and it’s harmful side effects, I started using about 3 years ago, the thing is I just got braces on my teeth. Please tell me what’s the worst that can happen

  15. Hey Tom I appreciate your time invested in informing the public about this addiction and it’s harmful side effects, I started using about 3 years ago, the thing is I just got braces on my teeth. Please tell me what’s the worst that can happen

  16. Does this apply to adderall aka methamphetamenes as well? From the research I have done, the scientific chemical makeup of meth and adderall are almost identical. I am taking adderall right now and my dentist has told me he is noticing teeth grinding which has never been an issue before taking adderall, but when I brought it up to my psychiatrist, he just brushed it off like it was nothing. I need to know the truth. Anyone with serious knowledge about adderall and the relativity to meth and how close the symptoms of adderall are to the symptoms of meth please comment back. Thank you!!

    • Adderall is actually a pill version of meth my father takes it because he was prescribed it for his anger and he actually use to smoke meth years ago as well

  17. I just 6 front teeth removed and got an immediate denture
    I was pretty depressed and smoked meth for a week
    I’m worried about what’s going to happen
    What should I do

  18. I been smoking meth for 8 mnths my teeth started to hurt idk if meth already affected my teeth i am suffering of wisdom teeth aswell can it be that. I have dry mouth but i been using biotene, i keep my teeth clean all day everyday dnt eat sweets, i drink tons and tona of water. What can i do ?

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