Methamphetamine, or crystal meth as it is known on the streets, is not a drug to be taken lightly. Though it causes a sense of well-being end energy immediately after it is inhaled, the long-term consequences of this highly addictive substance are far from worth it. People who become addicted to meth often suffer from psychosis, brain damage, and liver disease. But, there's one effect in particular that you need to keep in mind – tooth damage. Meth use can literally cause your teeth to rot out of your mouth. If that sentence alone is not enough to keep you away from this drug for life, then read on to learn even more about "meth mouth."

How does using methamphetamine harm the teeth?

Methamphetamine use harms the teeth in several ways. It is thought that certain toxins in the meth break down tooth enamel and gums when they come into contact with these tissues during smoking. Also, people who use meth are likely to clench their teeth very tightly when high. This weakens the enamel and leaves them prone to decay. Meth users often crave sugary beverages, and letting sugar rest on their already weakened teeth for hours at a time accelerates decay.

Since a single dose or meth can leave a person high for 12 hours or more, the sugar binges and the tooth clenching are almost permanent states for someone who is addicted to meth. Further, as obsession with the drug grows, many addicts forget to brush their teeth. They may also vomit when forced to go without a dose of the drug, and the acid in the vomit accelerates tooth decay as well.

Can "meth mouth" be treated?

Meth mouth often progresses so quickly, and addicts are so slow to seek care, that by the time a patient sees a dentist, it is often best for the dentist to remove the badly decayed teeth and just fit the patient for a denture. Even dental implants are not always an option since the drug often causes erosion of the jaw bones which would need to support the implants. The moral of the story here seems to be that if you want to keep your teeth, you should stay away from meth.

Is smoking meth "once in a while" okay?

So many addicts started off thinking that just one time would not cause tooth loss or any other serious, long-term consequences. While they might be right, the problem lies in the fact that hardly anyone ever tries meth "just one time." Meth is an incredibly addictive drug, and people become addicted after just one or two uses. Stay away completely. This is not something you will try once, and never again. It is a dark and dangerous path that is extremely difficult to depart from (especially with your teeth in tact) once you start down it. For more information about the importance of staying away from drugs to improve your oral health, contact a general dentist