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Meth Mouth: Methamphetamine Acid Erosion?

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Enamel Erosion: An Anatomy

The use of methamphetamines can commonly cause, for many people, a condition of cotton mouth, dry mouth or, with more precision, a condition of Xerostomia.

Ara Nazarian, DDS
Defined as dry mouth resulting from reduced or totally absent saliva flow, xerostomia occurs as a side effect of many prescribed and non-presribed medications (see list below) and are frequently caused by treatments used in chemotherapy for controlling or managing certain cancers.

Dry mouth conditions are also known to be associated with (Sjogren's Syndrome (an auto immune disease), a side effect from cancer therapy such as chemotherapeutic medications or radiation treatment or a side effect of a wide variety of medications.

Common Misconceptions

It is not so much the pharmaceutical components of methamphetamine-like compounds that cause damage to tooth structures (so called acids that have corrosive qualities that eat or dissolve tooth material) but rather the properties of xerostomia

As discussed on the Xerostomia page, symptoms or sensations can include difficulty swallowing, sore throats, burning sensations, potential ulcerations of oral mucosa and even difficulty speaking.

Acidity Damage
Corinne Scalzitti, DMD MAGD
Left untreated, it can substantially affect dental, nutritional, and psychological health.

Unfortunately, patients who (methamphetamine users or otherwise) elect to consume sugared beverages as an immediate means for getting rid of the cotton mouth feeling may be feeding (sugars) the bacterial process that may be present (e.g., in common caries) caused in part by decreased saliva.

Saliva - pH Factor

Amphetamine Abuse
Classic Meth Mouth
Paresh Patell, DDS
Xerostomia typically decreases oral pH, creating an environment that can cause increases in oral plaque and dental caries. Oral Candidiasis (yeast infections) are very common oral infections associated with xerostomia.

Uninterrupted saliva production is critical for maintaining ph balance, good oral health and healthy dentition that provides the basic dental function we all want and need for normal eating.

Normal saliva provides a number of functions that include basic cleansing action, antimicrobial activity, pH control, removal of food debris from the oral cavity, basic tissue (oral mucosa) lubrication and tooth enamel remineralization.

Increase Saliva Suggestion

Saliva Treatments

A number of products are available that serve to assist with increasing the supply or flow of saliva. Over the counter products, as pictured on this page can help to relieve the symptoms of dry mouth and create a net increase in saliva flow.

Consult with your doctor or pharmacist to research availability and appropriateness of prescribed medications and/or supplements.

Common Symptoms - Different Causes

Meth Mouth is sometimes used synonymously to describe a constellation of common symptoms. Agents other than methamphetamines that cause these symptoms can include:
Paul Sussman, DMD
  • antihistamines
  • antidepressants
  • anorexiants
  • antipsychotics
  • diuretics
  • anticholinergics
  • sedatives
  • anti-Parkinson agents
  • antihypertensives
Improving Saliva Suggestion

Dental Rehabilitation

The types of procedures, reconstruction/restoration products and number of procedures a reconstructive dentist can use in correcting or recreating a patient's dentition are dependent upon the extent of damage.

Peridontal disease, if evident, will require treatment. Extractions may or not be needed. Combinations of crowns (porcelain, composite, PFM), veneer laminates, individual tooth buildups, dental implants, bone grafts, gingiva grafts, custom bridgework, dentures or partials can be used creatively to recreate bite function and acceptable aesthetics that have been missing.

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