Methamphetamine, also known as Ice, is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, or injected. In addition to the devastating consequences of meth addiction, a condition known as “meth mouth” is a particularly dramatic one. Someone new to using meth may wonder, “Why do my teeth after smoking ice?” This is one of the telltale precursors for the severe dental damage that can occur with continued use of this dangerous drug. Meth mouth often is so advanced that the teeth cannot be salvaged. Getting help for a crystal meth addiction is critical in order to avoid the devastating effects to one’s teeth.
What Causes Meth Mouth?
Why do my teeth hurt after smoking ice? This question belies the lack of information available about the many dangers of crystal meth, or ice. If the individual is asking the question, he or she is likely unaware of the disastrous effects of ice on dental health.
Meth mouth results from a number of co-occurring effects caused by using ice. These include:
- Dry mouth. Crystal meth inhibits the saliva secretion that is needed to protect teeth. The extremely dry mouth caused by using meth is triggered by the narrowing of blood vessels in salivary glands, decreasing the amount of saliva produced. The lack of saliva can lead to damage to the teeth and gums.
- Ignoring dental hygiene. Meth addicts may cease to take care of their teeth. They stop regular dental hygiene habits, teeth cleanings and exams, and ignore cavities. This allows for continuing decay to rot the surface enamel away, leading to the eventual destruction of the tooth.
- Drinking sugary beverages. The excessive dry mouth can influence the meth user to address their thirst, but the individual will likely crave sweet, sugary, carbonated beverages. These wreak havoc on the teeth that are already vulnerable due to a lack of saliva and regular dental hygiene.
- Ice is acidic. The drug itself is said to have an acidic properties. The chemicals found in the meth cause the acidity, which include anhydrous ammonia, lithium, and red phosphorus. This often explains why someone may ask, “Why do my teeth hurt after smoking ice?”
Symptoms of Meth Mouth
The level of dental damage will depend upon the severity of the methamphetamine addiction. Occasional users will likely not suffer from this problem, at least not to the extent that a heavy ice user will. A study out of the University of California, Los Angeles in 2015 found that, when examining the dental condition of 571 meth users, 96% had cavities, 58% had untreated tooth decay, and 31% had six or more missing teeth. In addition, 40% of the meth users reported feeling self-conscious about the state of their teeth. Generally, women meth users have higher rates of cavities and tooth loss than males.
Signs and symptoms of meth mouth may include:
- Red and inflamed gum tissue
- Poor overall dental hygiene
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Broken, crumbling, or fractured teeth
Unfortunately, by the time someone with meth mouth seeks help for pain from a dentist the damage to the teeth is so severe that it is difficult to save the teeth. This is the result of neglecting dental health and hygiene for long periods, while simultaneously consuming sugary drinks and snacks in abundance. In the event of severe tooth decay, full-mouth extractions are performed and the individual will be fitted with dentures.
About Methamphetamine Addiction
Crystal meth, or ice, is the most widely used synthetic drug in the world, and is almost immediately addicting. Initially, the drug offers sensations of euphoria, alertness, energy, and a sense of wellbeing, with a high that can last up to 12 hours. While meth use soared in the 1990s, as home-based meth labs proliferated, stricter control of the cough medications used to concoct meth dramatically reduced production for many years.
However, Mexico has become the current source for the drug, with superlabs operated by drug cartels churning it out in abundance. This has lead to a sharp increase in meth use in the past couple of years. According to the U.S. Border Patrol, meth seizures have increased tenfold since 2010.
Some of the side effects from using meth include:
- Shortness of breath
- Hyperactivity, mania
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
With extended use, methamphetamine abuse can have devastating health effects, including:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Kidney damage
- Lung disorders
- Brain damage
- Delusional behavior
- Cognitive decline
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Severe tooth decay and tooth loss
Getting Help for Meth Addiction
Although challenging, it is possible to recovery from a meth addiction. To do so requires a commitment to making fundamental shifts in behaviors and lifestyle that will encompass the full continuum of care. Beginning with detox and withdrawal, the individual will undergo the process through which the body eliminates the residual toxins and chemicals from the drug while the brain attempts to stabilized. Detox and withdrawal lasts anywhere from one to two weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction. This is determined by the length of time meth was used, how much meth was usually consumed, the method used for the meth delivery, and whether there is a coexisting mental health condition.
Treatment for the meth addiction will rely on behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. A comprehensive rehab program will include both individual and group therapy sessions, combined with addiction education where recovery skills are taught and relapse prevention is planned. Additional support is provided through recovery support communities, such as the 12-step program or SMART Recovery.
Ken Seeley Communities Provides Comprehensive Treatment for Meth Addiction
Ken Seeley Communities is a full-spectrum addiction recovery program located in Palm Springs, California. Offering the complete continuum of care, including interventionist services, medically-supervised detoxification, outpatient rehab, residential rehab, and sober living housing, Ken Seeley Communities is dedicated to helping individuals overcome a crystal meth addiction. To learn more about why do my teeth hurt after smoking ice, and treatment options for meth addiction, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.