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Meth Mouth and Other Oral Side Effects of Illicit Drugs

Talk to your dentist about restoring damaged teeth due to drug usage.

The Basics About Drugs

Drugs are substances or medicines that, when taken, have a physiological effect on the body. They are available via over-the-counter, prescription, or illegally through the black market. Unfortunately, not all drugs can be regulated, as there are hundreds of drugs available which include:

  • Naturally grown drugs like peyote or cannabis (though many states do regulate cannabis grown legally within their border)
  • Synthesized drugs made by pharmaceutical companies
  • Illegal street drugs made in an underground lab or someone's house

In the medical world, drugs are prescribed or recommended to treat illnesses, symptoms, side effects, or to assist with a procedure. Drugs taken without medical advice or prescription, are considered recreational and are generally used to alter the user's state of consciousness casually or for pleasure.

Oral Side Effects of Illicit Drugs

Illicit drugs are substances that are illegal to harvest, make, sell, or use because of the potential threat to one's health or life. Some of the most common illicit drugs are methamphetamine, cocaine, crack, ecstasy, bath salts, and LSD, just to name a few.

Oral side effects of many illicit drugs include:

  • Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)
  • Clenching/teeth grinding (bruxism)/excessive enamel wear
  • Dry mouth, Mouth sores
  • Perforation of the palate
  • Fractured teeth/tooth-loss

Communicate openly with your dentist if you are a current user or recovering addict. Your dentist will recommend the best treatment options to get your mouth back to healthy.

Meth Mouth

Like other drugs, using methamphetamine can cause severe health issues such as:

  • Permanent brain and heart damage
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Anxiety, confusion, insomnia
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, violence
  • Intense itching and skin sores

Meth, however, is unique in just how badly it can affect oral health. According to the American Dental Association, "Meth Mouth" is the presence of severe tooth decay and gum disease, which weakens the tooth and causes it to break or fall out due to chronic meth usage. Meth is an acidic drug that can eat away at tooth enamel, also changing the physical appearance in the mouth of chronic users which can result in:

  • Stained/black teeth
  • Rotting/crumbling/tooth decay
  • Red/swollen/receding gums

Dry mouth and teeth grinding are also side effects of chronic meth usage, each of which can also negatively affect oral health.