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Meth Mouth is a Serious Effect of Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine, also known as Ice, is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant. Ice can be smoked, snorted, or injected. One of the worst effects of meth addiction is a condition known as “meth mouth.” Someone new to using meth may wonder, “Why do my teeth hurt after smoking ice?”
Tooth pain is one of the telltale signs for the severe dental damage that can occur with continued use of meth. 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?
You might wonder why your teeth hurt after smoking ice. This shows how little is really understood about the dangers of meth. People may be unaware of the harsh effects of ice on dental health. Meth mouth results from a number of effects caused by using ice. These include:
- Dry mouth. Crystal meth prevents the saliva secretion that is needed to protect teeth. Using ice triggers the narrowing of blood vessels in the salivary glands and causes dry mouth. This causes decreasing the amount of saliva production. The lack of saliva can lead to damage to the teeth and gums.
- Ignoring dental hygiene. Meth addicts may stop taking care of their teeth. They stop regular dental hygiene habits, teeth cleanings and exams, and ignore cavities. This allows for decay to rot the surface enamel away, leading to the eventual loss of the tooth.
- Drinking sugary beverages. The dry mouth can spur the meth user to address his or her thirst. Often they will crave sweet, sugary, carbonated drinks. These drinks wreak havoc on the teeth. The teeth are already in poor shape due to a lack of saliva and regular dental hygiene.
Ice is acidic. The drug itself is said to have high acid content. The chemicals found in the meth cause the high acid. These include anhydrous ammonia, lithium, and red phosphorus.
Symptoms of Meth Mouth
The level of dental damage will depend upon the severity of the meth problem. Occasional users will likely not suffer from this problem, at least not to the extent that a heavy ice user will.
A 2015 study from UCLA on the dental status of meth addicts is telling. It found that 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.
Sadly, by the time someone with meth mouth seeks help from a dentist due to pain, the damage to the teeth is severe. So much so that it is difficult to save the teeth. This is the result of neglecting dental health and hygiene for long periods. This while also consuming a high level of sugary drinks and snacks. 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 instantly addicting. At first the drug offers sensations of euphoria, alertness, energy, and a sense of wellbeing. These effects can last up to 12 hours. Meth use soared in the 1990s, as home-based meth labs proliferated. Later, stricter control of the cough medications used to make meth dramatically reduced production for many years.
However, Mexico has become the current source for the drug, with super labs operated by drug cartels churning the drug out. 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 a severe effect on health, 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 hard to do, it is possible to recover from a meth problem. To do so requires someone to commit to making basic shifts in behaviors and lifestyle habits. Starting with detox, the person undergoes the process of clearing the meth from the body. During detox the body removes the toxins and chemicals from the drug while the brain attempts to stabilize.
Detox and withdrawal lasts anywhere from one to two weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction. Many factors determine this. They include the history of meth use, how much was consumed, and the method used for the meth delivery. Another factor is whether there is a mental health condition present.
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 Ice 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.