Image_3467, Man and Dog © Richard Ansett 2014
Meth Mouth is a term used to describe the discoloration, rotting and broken teeth in the mouth of a person who has an addiction to methamphetamine. This extreme tooth decay is a condition that occurs in many people and it is believed that the drug causes it. Methamphetamine causes the saliva glands to stop producing saliva so a person will experience an extremely dry mouth. This allows the acid in the mouth and in food and drink that is consumed to eat away at the protective enamel on the teeth. Users also may obsessively grind their teeth and may not brush their teeth for many days while on a binge.
Methamphetamine is produced from a range of highly toxic chemicals, which can cause many problems for an addict. Lithium, muratic and sulfuric acid are key ingredients in methamphetamine and these are all highly corrosive. When a person smokes methamphetamine in a pipe, these chemicals are heated, vaporized and inhaled which can cause sores on the inside of the mouth. The corrosive chemicals also coat the teeth causing significant decay to the enamel. If the drug is snorted, the chemicals are drawn down the nasal passage to the back of the throat and coating the teeth with the substance.
Heroin And the Affect on Teeth
Heroin is known to cause serious oral health problems and in chronic long term users, bad teeth, bad gums and missing teeth are often apparent. In surveys of injecting heroin drug users, up to 70% described problems such as teeth snapping off, teeth falling apart, gum disease and trauma. These problems are often a result of a lack of dental hygiene, access to health care or not caring about oral health due to drug addiction.
Individuals who are addicted to heroine or other opiates often experience severe decay in their teeth. This is because the drug causes them to crave sweet foods and drinks but their lifestyle often ignores the importance of mouth care. Additionally, many addicts consume sugary drinks and foods because they are inexpensive and readily available.
Detail from Image_3467 © Richard Ansett 2014