Early On Meth Use Linked to Oral Health Conditions

Since the National Institute on Drug Abuse has estimated that more than 10 million Americans have tried methamphetamine and 1.4 million are habitual users, the medical community had become concerned about the elevated risk for mood disturbances, violent behavior, infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, crime, unemployment, as well as child abuse and neglect. Now, the dental community has identified that meth users are at risk for a dental disease known as meth mouth.

Meth mouth is a term used to describe the acceleration of tooth decay which occurs in the early stages of meth use.  Consequently, many feel that dentists can be at the forefront of uncovering meth use in people and may be instrumental in preventing further meth use which can otherwise lead to greater health issues later on. In 2005, the economic cost of methamphetamine use in the U.S. escalated to $23.4 billion, according to the RAND Corp. For this reason, The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse has granted a request for a $1.86 million fund to be used by the UCLA School of Dentistry for the study of oral health consequences associated with methamphetamine use.

Dr. Vivek Shetty, a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, had previously determined that higher rates of oral disease exist among methamphetamine abusers in a study.

Identifying meth use in the early stages of drug abuse through dentistry treatment will allow dentists to be part of the team of health professionals involved in thwarting off meth use which has now reached epidemic proportions.

If you or a loved one is using meth, contact Dr. Mark Sweeney for a consultation to identify your elevated risk of tooth decay, oral diseases and ultimately, medical conditions.