- On November 3, 2017
- dental, dentist, drugs and teeth, san pedro del pinatar, smile
Recently, a young woman came to my dental clinic because she presented a very particular case of dental caries for a girl her age. It was a case of extensively decayed teeth at the dental cervix, i.e. the part of the tooth at the junction of the crown and root or roots. Cases as such can be found in people with dry mouth or lack of saliva, patients who abuse sugary drinks/food or those with a poor oral hygiene.
In order to prevent her from losing her teeth at a very early age, we started looking into the possible causes of her tooth decay. We were quite surprised to know that our patient was not used to consume sugary drinks/food and she asserted that she took good care of her oral hygiene. Nevertheless, the lack of saliva was still a striking fact… Although we do not do a sialometry test (diagnostic tool to measure saliva flow), we continued looking for the possible causes of her affection. The only option I had was asking this:
“Do you take drugs?”
She looked at me as if I were invading her privacy, so I explained her that it was not my intention to interfere in her private life, but the use of cocaine, crack or meth could led to cases as hers. Thus, to be able to help her, we needed to know whether she consumed any of these substances. She remained silent for a moment and then, she declared that she had been consuming meth for three month.
Meth mouth is the name given to dental and oral damage associated to meth, cocaine or crack, and her affection tends to happen due to this factors and bruxism (excessive teeth grinding). In cases as such, drug use reduces saliva production and teeth are exposed to bacteria, so the mouth’s pH acidifies. The absence of saliva also leads to increase the consumption of sugary drinks, which increases acidification. Finally, if consumers neglect their oral hygiene, tooth decay starts to become present.
Meth mouth symptoms are:
Dry mouth: meth affects the salivary glands, stopping saliva production. This substance is vital to neutralize the acid nature of the food we eat, since these acids break down the enamel of the tooth and create small black spots. Additionally, the absence of saliva produces bacterial growth.
Caries: a lack of saliva and the excessive consumption of sugar turn these small black spots into caries due to bacterial growth.
Cracked teeth or Bruxism: drug use affects the nervous system, thus consumers grind their teeth to relieve stress, to the point that they even crack them.
Gum disease: drug use affects the immune system, thus consumers tend to conglomerate bacteria in their gums and produce mouth sores.
Poor oral hygiene: as a stimulant drug, meth led consumers to stay for various days and under its effects, they forget to brush their teeth regularly, thus dental plaque accumulates.
Apart from being illegal, meth, cocaine, crack and many other drugs can affect seriously your oral health within a year. In this respect, drug addicts are seriously ill and need specialized help immediately.