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What is Meth Mouth? Causes, Symptoms, and Risks

Methamphetamine use is associated with numerous adverse oral health outcomes, including tooth damage, foul odor, and sometimes even infections.

Meth Mouth

The term "meth mouth" refers to tooth decay and the general lack of dental care that commonly accompanies Meth or Methamphetamine addiction. Acidic dental decay and the drug-induced anatomical alterations that happen with meth use contribute to meth mouth, sometimes known as a dentist's terrible fear.


In addition, meth addiction may cause several noticeable physical changes, including meth mouth, altered facial structure, and skin issues from meth injections.


According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, those who regularly use meth have a higher risk of developing severe cavities and periodontitis, which may lead to tooth loss or breakage. In addition, the teeth of long-term meth users often become discolored, tarnished, damaged, crumbly, and shattered due to the drug's effects.


Severe tooth decay in this population is likely attributable to psychological and physiological harm brought on by the drug, such as dry mouth and long spells of neglecting oral health.

First Signs of Meth Mouth

Deterioration of teeth is a typical symptom of long-term methamphetamine use. As early as 12 months into regular meth usage, teeth begin to discolor, deteriorate, and eventually break.


Studies conducted by the American Dental Association revealed that among a broad group of meth users:


  • Most of the population (96%) suffered from tooth decay.

  • Over half (58%) of people had unresolved cavities.

  • One-third of the population was missing six or more teeth.


Meth mouth is a common side effect of meth usage, and sadly it may be somewhat painful for specific users. The danger of developing meth mouth increases with the frequency with which meth is used; frequent users have more than four times the chance of developing meth mouth overall and three times the likelihood of getting fractured teeth, specifically.


Meth mouth was three times more common among persons who smoked meth than those who tried other means of administration.


Methamphetamine addiction has significant negative consequences, but problems with dental hygiene are widely present.

Additionally, these are the following signs of meth misuse or addiction:


  • Vertigo.

  • Stress.

  • Cognitive dissonance.

  • Slimming down.

  • Formication.

  • Insomnia.

  • Irreversible brain damage.

  • Amnesia.

  • Hallucinations.

  • Difficulties with the skin, such as sores, infections, and others.

Medically Reviewed:


Rolling Hills Recovery Center

Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Causes of Meth Mouth

There are several potential causes of meth mouth. For example, having bad teeth, eating poorly, and not going to the dentist regularly may contribute to someone developing this symptom; skipping brushing your teeth or eating sweets while using meth may lead to a general lack of hygiene.


In addition, individuals who abuse meth often have bad eating habits and pick out sugary foods and drinks (a practice known as "buzzing"), which may harm dental health. Finally, cavities are exacerbated by meth use and a diet high in sweet foods. Cavities left untreated may cause pain in the gums and teeth and even cause ulcers if they reach the nerves.


Tooth care may also become a low priority if one is trying to keep up with the demands of addiction maintenance. However, the body's capacity to mend itself is hindered if essential nutrients like vitamin C and iron are lacking in the diet. As a result, sores and abscesses caused by meth mouth don't get the chance to heal correctly, causing considerable discomfort.


A side effect of meth's stimulating effects is that it might cause people to grind their teeth.


Meth mouth occurs when someone is high and grinds their teeth, leading to chips. In addition, since meth contains acidic components, it erodes and weakens teeth, making them more susceptible to breaking.


Toxic chemicals, including potassium permanganate, drain cleaner, antifreeze, and lantern fluid, are used to make meth, which is too strong for human ingestion and causes severe damage to the body and the mouth.


Extreme dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common symptom of meth mouth. This is because the saliva glands are drained by meth use, which increases the number of germs in the mouth and leads to tooth decay. Gum disease is a possible consequence of this.

Is There a Time Frame for Developing Meth Mouth?

Meth mouth refers to the ominous signs of significant oral harm, bad breath, and periodontitis that may occur in users of the illegal substance methamphetamine within 365 days of beginning usage. Meth mouth is irreversible and often necessitates many dental treatments, including tooth removal.

Treatment for Meth Mouth

Approximately 5% of Americans have used meth at least once, making it one of the country's most widely used illicit drugs. There has been a rise in meth usage in rural parts of the United States in recent years. $550 million was spent on methamphetamine rehabilitation programs in 2017. This is partly due to the 1.6 million people who used meth that year.


Meth mouth is one of several consequences of meth usage that must be addressed. Unfortunately, meth mouth often necessitates the removal of affected teeth, although dental work may help alleviate some of the symptoms.


Meth use may have much more severe effects than tooth decay. To rid the body of meth, detoxification is a suggested therapeutic option. Having expert medical treatment may improve the patient's chances of making a full recovery.

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Implications for the Rest of the Physical System

In addition to causing oral problems, meth mouth may have far-reaching effects on a person's health. Meth usage may lead to a variety of medical issues, including but not limited to the following:


  • Heart complications

  • Danger of HIV

  • Premature birth

  • Hyperthermia

  • Seizures

  • Possible exposure to Hepatitis

  • Effects of lead exposure

  • Stroke

  • Injury to the brain

  • Meth mite


Delusion and aggressiveness are only two of the many adverse mental health outcomes that may result from meth use. In addition, misuse of methamphetamine may cause severe, perhaps fatal, health issues that need immediate attention.

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Is There a Time Frame for Developing Meth Mouth?
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