Methamphetamine addiction causes tooth decay and skin sores. Meth addiction is a serious disease that causes multiple health problems. Most notable of the health problems are severe tooth decay and skin sores on the face and arms.
Meth Tooth Decay
The onset of meth tooth decay can be rapid. Periodontal disease associated with methamphetamine use is extensively discussed in professional dental literature. In as little as a few months, users will begin to experience problems with the formation of cavities and darkening of the teeth. Teeth will begin to develop a “crumbly” texture. It is thought that the formation of tooth decay, tooth breakage and tooth loss is due to a number of factors:
- In meth tooth decay, a meth user’s mouth is chronically dry. When saliva is not present in the mouth to wash away contaminants and protect teeth, teeth are highly susceptible to deterioration.
- Meth tooth decay is accelerated by the user’s eventual discontinuation of dental care. Brushing, flossing and receiving regular dental checkups are of no concern to a severely addicted meth user.
- Continuous grinding of the teeth and a high intake of sugary beverages contribute to decay.
- The chemical effect of meth itself on teeth (or the effect of other substances mixed with the meth) is thought to contribute to decay, though this theory is still unproven.
- Cigarette smoking contributes to the meth mouth appearance.
- User’s who inject the drug develop meth mouth more quickly and more severely than users who smoke or snort the drug.
Meth Tooth Decay Treatment
Meth mouth is a complex condition to treat effectively if a user does not stop using meth. Meth users usually do not have the necessary money or insurance to pay for basic dental care, much less more advanced treatments. Further, the combination of meth and the anesthetic used during dental procedures, and the opiate pain killers usually prescribed after procedures, are dangerous combinations.
Meth tooth decay treatment targets the primary causes of the decay such as increasing saliva flow, lowering intake of sugary beverages, utilizing proper dental hygiene practices and correcting existing damage and decay.
It is not entirely clear to drug and dental professionals if meth mouth is a distinct condition caused specifically by meth use. A number of other drugs can result in a similar condition though the condition might not be of the same severity as meth tooth decay.
Meth Skin Sores
Meth skin sores almost always exist on the faces and/or arms of meth users. Meth user’s report having the sensation of bugs crawling under the skin. The sensation is referred to as “crank bugs”. Some meth users have such intense crawling sensations under the skin that they will cut the skin with sharp objects in an attempt to find the perceived bugs. The sensation leads to scratching and picking of the skin, which then leads to open cuts. Open cuts develop into sores that are infected with bacteria and/or fungi. This exacerbates the existence of skin sores.
Acne is a common problem with meth users; it is due to poor nutrition, dehydration and overall poor hygiene and health. Finally, meth users who use glass objects to smoke meth will occasionally acquire burns around the mouth; the burns can become infected and not heal properly, thus adding to the existence of sores on the face.