Updated on February 6, 2024
4 min read

Meth Mouth: What It Looks Like and How to Treat It

Key Takeaways

Dental Health Risks of Meth Use

Dental health issues are one of the most common health issues associated with meth use. One study examining the mouths of 571 meth users found that 96% had cavities and 58% had untreated tooth decay.1

    We reached out to Chad Elkin, a board-certified addiction medicine specialist from National Addiction Specialists, for their insights on meth mouth. According to him, meth mouth occurs due to various factors dental health factors, including:

    • Dry mouth: Salivary glands affected by meth use produce less saliva and allow bacterial growth
    • Poor nutrition: People using meth tend to eat sugary foods and carbonated drinks frequently
    • Teeth grinding: People using meth tend to clench their jaw and grind their teeth, breaking down tooth enamel
    • Drug additives: Hazardous chemicals commonly mixed with meth, like battery acid and household cleaners, can damage overall oral health
    • Poor dental hygiene: Addiction can make people neglect brushing and flossing their teeth every day
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    What is Meth Mouth?

    Meth mouth describes the oral health problems that occur due to methamphetamine or crystal meth use. People who are addicted to meth tend to have a high incidence of dental health issues.

    Several issues related to meth use increase someone’s likelihood of having dental issues. People who use meth tend to have poor oral hygiene and don’t eat a healthy diet.

    Additionally, meth’s acidity damages tooth enamel and causes severe tooth decay. Meth might also be mixed with harsh chemicals, further damaging teeth.

    What Do Experts Think About Meth Mouth?

    According to Elkin, meth mouth can cause or worsen various dental health problems, including:

    • Tooth pain
    • Decreased saliva production
    • Advanced tooth decay
    • Enamel damage
    • Gum disease or infection
    • Stained, blackened, or rotting teeth
    • Fragile or broken teeth
    • Dental caries leading to tooth fractures
    • Tooth loss

    Does Meth Make Your Teeth Fall Out?

    Yes, but meth mouth occurs in stages, and tooth loss doesn’t happen immediately. During the first stage, a meth addict tends to have bad breath, gum inflammation, and develop one or more cavities.

    In the second stage, tooth decay increases. Their gums begin receding, and they develop mouth and lip sores.

    During the third and final stage, teeth begin breaking and falling out. There might also be damage to the soft tissue of the tongue, lips, and tonsils.

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    What Are Symptoms of Meth Mouth?

    Symptoms of meth mouth include:

    • Broken or missing teeth
    • Avoiding eating or only eating soft foods
    • Gum disease
    • Cavities and microcavities
    • Blackened or stained teeth
    • Loose teeth

    In addition to dental problems, people using meth also tend to experience mood swings, dramatic weight loss, meth-related psychosis, and poor hygiene overall.

    Images of Meth Mouth (Warning: Medical Images)

    Medical Images of Meth Sources
    Depositphotos 136759704 XL
    Full Mouth
    Depositphotos 342788814 XL
    Depositphotos 229361156 XL
    Mouth with tooth decay from meth

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    Is Meth Mouth Reversible?

    Elkin mentions that the effects of meth mouth are usually not reversible. You might lose some or all of your natural teeth. 

    However, if it’s treated early, you may be able to significantly reduce its harmful effects. Additionally, dentists can help many recovering meth addicts correct some issues. 

    Treatment includes:

    • Dental Crowns
    • Dental Implants
    • Veneers
    • Dentures

    Treatment for Meth Addiction

    There are various treatment options for meth addiction, and they typically use a combination of different methods to treat the addiction. The most effective way to treat meth addiction is to wean off of the drug with a medically supervised detox. 

    Available treatment options for meth addiction include:

    Recent research showed that a combination of two medications, injectable naltrexone and oral bupropion, proved effective for treating adults with moderate or severe methamphetamine use disorder.2

    If you or someone you know is struggling with meth addiction, help is available. Contact a professional treatment center to learn about treatment for substance abuse.

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    Updated on February 6, 2024

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