Meth Mouth

Meth mouth is one of the side effects of methamphetamine use. Meth addicts often suffer terrible tooth decay caused by meth ingredients and lack of oral hygiene, often referred to as meth mouth. Learn about some treatment options for meth mouth.


One of the side affects of substance abuse is often poor oral hygiene. The extreme way that methamphetamine use manifests itself  in tooth decay and other oral hygiene issues is often referred to as “meth mouth.” The nature of methamphetamine, combined with the common practices and neglect in all substance cases, can lead to a very advanced stage of tooth decay and a severe breakdown in oral health. It is also worth noting that even though the condition is known as “meth mouth”, it can be caused by other drug addictions, as well as a general state of poor oral hygiene.

What causes meth mouth?

There are a number of things that cause meth mouth. Part of the reason that methamphetamine contributes to the breakdown of the teeth, according to the American Dental Association, is that the drug is acidic. The extreme acidity, along with the kinds of contaminants present in meth, contribute to teeth that decay relatively rapidly. But that’s not the only reason. Here are some more reasons that meth mouth can develop:

  • Cracked teeth: One of the signs of meth mouth is cracked teeth. This happens when methamphetamine users grind and clench their teeth. This can happen both while under the influence of the drug and in the aftermath while experiencing meth withdrawal symptoms.
  • Dry mouth: Xerostomia, which is known more commonly as dry mouth, results when there is a reduction in the saliva that is formed. Saliva provides natural protection for teeth and gums. The use of meth reduces the production of saliva, and that means that there is lower protection. This condition can be exacerbated by the fact that many meth users sometimes sleep for more than 24 hours at time - often with the mouth open.
  • Indifference to oral hygiene: One of the hallmarks of an addiction is an increasing indifference to matters of hygiene. This includes oral hygiene. Many meth users do not bother to brush or floss their teeth, or eat foods that can help strengthen and protect them. This leads to a situation in which the mouth is vulnerable to weak teeth, gum disease and other problems.

It is important to note that the problem of meth mouth can be enhanced by tobacco use, consuming sugary drinks, and the fact that meth users rarely eat (methamphetamine is an appetite suppressant), meaning that there is less of a change for saliva to be produced and used in the mouth.

You should also realize that meth mouth can result from other causes beyond methamphetamine use. Even though it is called meth mouth, those who are addicted to other substances, including cocaine and even alcohol, may experience a similar oral condition. Additionally, those with problems related to saliva production - even if drug abuse is not an issue - can exhibit the signs of meth mouth. Children, teenagers and adults who do not properly care for their teeth can also, over time, develop what appears to be meth mouth, even without going anywhere near drugs. However, in drug abusers, the characteristic signs of meth mouth generally develop much fast.

If meth mouth is not addressed, and the situation is allowed to continue, it can lead to a number of serious problems. It is possible for gum disease to develop, and for teeth to begin falling out. Additionally, oral cancer is a possibility. Another concern is that disease in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body. Also, poor oral hygiene can weaken the immune system, leaving someone with meth mouth more vulnerable to colds and the flu, and other attacks on the respiratory system.

Treating meth mouth

The problem with treating meth mouth is that you can’t reverse it completely. Just a cavity has to be drilled and filled in, and can’t be cured, this advanced state of tooth decay cannot be changed. When treating meth mouth, patients are usually given root canals, or they are given dental implants to replace teeth that must be yanked out. In some cases, gum grafts might be necessary, and treatments for advanced stages of gum disease.

Meth mouth is a serious problem. It can lead to disease and other problems, in addition to being extremely unattractive. And, of course, it can be an indication of a deeper problem related to methamphetamine addiction.

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