Methamphetamine, otherwise known as crystal meth or meth, is a highly addictive substance that stimulates the body. Although dangerous, the drug is sought out due to the immediate activation of the pleasure receptors once it is used. Meth can be used in a number of ways (injection, insufflation, inhalation), but the high is remotely the same. Meth releases a surge of dopamine, causing prolonged euphoria. However, over time, crystal meth destroys the receptors – causing an inability to feel the intense pleasure caused by the initial use of meth.
Meth is also known to destroy your teeth, commonly referred to as meth mouth, and proper bodily functions. Meth mouth is one of the many negative consequences of chronic methamphetamine abuse.
What Is Meth Mouth?
Meth mouth is severe tooth decay and can even lead to tooth loss, fracture, acid erosion, and other serious problems, especially if left untreated. Although other drugs equally affect the mouth and teeth, meth is more commonly recognized to do so. The hypothesized causes of meth mouth are a combination of side effects of using the drug and hygiene factors such as:
- Excessive dry mouth
- Clenching and grinding of the teeth
- Infrequency of proper oral hygiene
- Frequent consumption of sugary drinks or food
The acidity of crystal meth is extremely high, which leads to the reduction of saliva when using the drug. When there is a lack of saliva, the risk of dental complications, enamel erosion, and periodontal disease increases. The salivary glands protect the teeth by preventing acids from eroding tooth enamel. The teeth decay quicker and easier without this defense. Also, another common enhancer of poor dental hygiene is the desire for sugary food or drinks while under the influence.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of meth addiction can be obvious, especially when it comes to the development of meth mouth. Meth mouth is fairly easy to detect. The severity of dental issues depends entirely on the individual, their health, and how long they have been using the substance. Clear signs of meth mouth include:
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Tooth decay
- Clenching and grinding the teeth
- Inconsistent or a lack of oral hygiene
- Gum disease
Although meth mouth is the most common side effect of crystal meth abuse, using the drug produces a number of other side effects such as:
- Dilated pupils
- Fleeting euphoria
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Elevated body temperatures
- Unpredictable behavior
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- A headache
- Dry mouth, bad breath
- Meth mouth
- Doing repetitive tasks
- Jaw clenching or grinding
- Violent behavior
- Respiratory abnormalities
- Elevated heart rate
Long-term consequences of methamphetamine addiction consist of:
- Microvascular hemorrhage
- Eye damage or vision impairment
- Mood disorders
- Reproductive health issues
- Dental problems
Meth causes both psychological and physical addiction, consisting of dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms if you use a large amount of the drug for an extended period of time. The longer duration of methamphetamine use, the more severe the consequences of addiction will be.
How Can It Be Treated?
Treating addiction to crystal meth can be difficult, but it is possible to regain your health after abusing drugs. Meth mouth and a number of other long-term effects of meth abuse are severe and can take a long time before these consequences lessen—if they can be reversed.
Treatment of meth mouth is generally tough to treat; however, it can be prevented by not using meth and taking care of your teeth.
If you find yourself unable to stop using meth to prevent meth mouth, your chances of developing more severe dental issues drastically increases. Although treating meth addiction is different from treating dental issues caused by meth, maintaining sobriety will help you take better care of your teeth, gums, and overall health.
Meth mouth, unfortunately, is incurable if the damage is extensive. Sometimes tooth decay and gum disease can be treated, but in severe cases, it can lead to loss of teeth.
Also, many people do not have the finances for dental work, which can be especially costly if the damages are critical. Depending on how badly the tooth corrosion and decay are, people might need extractions, implants, and possibly dentures to completely reconstruct the damage caused by meth mouth. However, in other cases, someone with less damage might only need fillings and crowns. Truthfully, the only way to prevent damage is to stop abusing substances that cause serious side effects, such as crystal meth.
Attending a detoxification and inpatient rehabilitation program can help you develop proper life skills and oral hygiene habits, as well as help you achieve a better quality of life.
Start Your Recovery Journey Today
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it’s not too late. California Highlands Addiction Treatment Center can assist you with getting the help you need. Dealing with addiction is never easy, especially when you are abusing substances as harsh and addictive as crystal meth. Contacting us (888) 969-8755 at can get you in touch with one of our trained professional staff members who can guide you on your recovery journey. It’s never too late to regain control of your life, so why wait?