What Causes Meth Mouth

Dental health experts can't say for certain what causes meth mouth or why meth is so damaging, but they have some good ideas.

  • Meth contains highly corrosive ingredients, including anhydrous ammonia, red phosphorous, lithium from car batteries, and muriatic acid.
  • Meth causes dry mouth, which results from a reduced flow of saliva. Saliva is needed to wash away food and neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria in plaque. If you don't have enough saliva to do this, these acids can cause extensive decay.
  • Meth makes users thirsty and craving sugary drinks. Mountain Dew has become the preferred drink of meth users, and a 12 ounce can contains about 12 teaspoons of sugar.
  • The highly addictive nature of the drug causes users to stop caring for their personal hygiene, including brushing and flossing their teeth.
  • Meth abuse can also lead to bruxism, or grinding of teeth. This occurs because addicts become nervous and paranoid and tend to hallucinate. Persistent bruxism may explain why teeth become twisted in a patient with meth mouth.

In addition to the possibility of losing all of their teeth, meth users face the following health risks:

  • Inflammation of the heart lining.
  • Cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and stroke-producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain.
  • Acute lead poisoning. (lead acetate is commonly used to make methamphetamine)
  • For those who inject the drug, damaged blood vessels,skin abscesses, and an increased risk for transmittable diseases such as HIV.
  • If taken while pregnant, birth defects and premature delivery.
  • Hyperthermia and convulsions due to an overdose, resulting in death if not treated immediately.