Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug. It is a crystalline powder that can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked. The drug is derived from amphetamine and is similar in chemical structure, though it’s much more vital. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it is similar to amphetamine—a drug used to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Although the drug is an effective medicine for some health problems, it also has a high potential for abuse.
Abusing methamphetamine can result in various health issues. One of which is Meth mouth, a term used to describe the severe tooth decay associated with methamphetamines. The condition is characterized by feeble oral health and deteriorated teeth, particularly those at the front of the mouth. But how does meth mouth occur? Here are some ideas.
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Mouth
Many signs point to having a meth mouth. However, most of the symptoms attack a person’s oral health, producing the usual disorders of someone with terrible oral care practices. Some symptoms may include:
- Gum Disease
One of the first signs of meth mouth is gum disease. A person can develop gum disease after using methamphetamine. It is because this drug causes the user to dry out their mouth. When saliva is not present to keep teeth clean, bacteria can attack the teeth, causing inflammation.
- Bruxism or Teeth Grinding
Another sign that a person is abusing methamphetamine is bruxism or teeth grinding. Methamphetamine is known to cause mental disorders. Teeth grinding is one such disorder. It is a condition wherein a person grinds or clenches their teeth.
- Tooth Decay
Meth mouth results in tooth decay. It is due to the substance’s tendency to dry out saliva. Saliva plays a crucial role in protecting and lubricating the mouth. Without it, bacteria can thrive and cause decay. As a result, the teeth can become soft and break down.
- Bad Breath
Bad breath is a common symptom of meth mouth. When one is using methamphetamines, they tend to have a dry mouth. The mouth is not getting the moisture it needs to keep food debris and bacteria at bay. The dryness causes the bacteria to thrive, resulting in an unpleasant smell.
- Receding Gums
As a reaction to dry mouth, gums may recede. It is a common side effect of methamphetamine abuse. The drug does not allow the gums to stay healthy and strong. As a result, gums shrink and recede, showing more teeth than before.
Another by-product of methamphetamine abuse is abscessed. Users of crystal meth tend to have open sores that are easy to get infected. It is due to meth’s hazardous effects on the body. It is also possible that they may have more wounds than the average person.
How Does Methamphetamine Work?
‘Meth mouth’ is caused by the effects of methamphetamine on the body. It significantly changes a person’s overall health, making them susceptible to many health problems. It is imperative to know how it works to understand how the drug affects the body.
Methamphetamine can cause dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical associated with pleasure, responsible for the effects of methamphetamine. In the brain, dopamine activates nerve cells, leading to more dopamine release. It is called a “positive feedback loop,” wherein dopamine is released in a perpetual cycle. In some ways, the drug affects the brain like cocaine. It increases the dopamine the brain can receive, causing euphoria and a sense of high.
The drug also creates changes in the nerve cells that release dopamine. The drug causes the number of dopamine receptors to decrease. It results in less dopamine being released. All in all, methamphetamine causes dopamine to be released excessively and produces neurotransmitter imbalance.
In addition to dopamine, methamphetamine can alter the levels of GABA receptors. GABA affects the level of excitement in the brain. It is a naturally occurring substance in the body and one factor that controls pleasure. High levels of GABA usually produce low excitement levels, causing sedation and a slower heartbeat.
Low levels of GABA have high levels of excitement, which can cause nervousness and the opposite effects of sedation. By increasing the number of GABA receptors, methamphetamine can cause an imbalance of neurotransmitters. It results in an increased level of stimulation.
Besides the above, methamphetamine also causes changes to the level of hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and serotonin. These hormones are responsible for controlling a person’s pleasure, sexual drive, and appetite. Methamphetamine can cause the release and production of these hormones. However, methamphetamine is not capable of producing them on its own. Instead, it works to alter the activity of other chemicals in the body. As a result, it causes drastic changes in the levels of these hormones in the body.
How to Get Rid of Meth Mouth
Now that you know how methamphetamine works in the body and the effects that it causes, it is imperative to understand how to remedy meth mouth.
It is vital that a person who uses methamphetamine eat well and maintain a balanced diet. The condition involves severe tooth decay and dental health issues. It is mainly due to the dry mouth caused by methamphetamines. A person should use drinks and foods that can help keep their mouth moist. Saliva works to release enzymes that attack the bacteria in the mouth, fighting off any chances of tooth decay. The person should also brush their teeth thoroughly and frequently. Also, they should use non-alcoholic drinks to mouthwash throughout the day to avoid dry mouth.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene
To combat meth mouth, a person must also practice good oral hygiene. It includes teeth cleaning. The person should use toothbrushes and toothpaste to fight off the effects of meth mouth.
- Dental Check-ups
Finally, one should see a dentist for routine check-ups. A dental professional will be able to assess the condition of the person’s teeth, including the possible meth mouth. They will be able to identify if a patient is suffering from meth mouth and take appropriate measures to treat it.
Meth mouth can be bad for your oral health and overall health. If you are using methamphetamine and are experiencing symptoms of meth mouth, it’s time to seek help. Contact a rehab center and go on a meth mouth treatment.
Other Possible Health Risks of Abusing Methamphetamine
Meth mouth is not the only health risk of using methamphetamines. Abusing this drug can result in various other health risks. Some of which are:
- Lung Disease
A person who uses methamphetamine regularly is at risk of developing a lung infection. It is due to how the drug is taken, usually through smoking and snorting. These methods allow the drug to be absorbed into the body directly, resulting in fast absorption. The high levels of stimulation that the drug produces can make a person breathe quickly and deeply. Over time, this can result in respiratory issues such as lung infection and inflammation.
- Heart Disease
High levels of stimulation that methamphetamine produces can cause the user’s heart rate to increase. It increases the burden on the heart, putting them at risk for developing heart disease. The drug also has adverse effects on the heart’s electrical activity, resulting in irregular heartbeats, leading to the person suffering a heart attack or heart failure.
- Birth Defects
Pregnant women who use methamphetamine can risk having a child with congenital disabilities. The possible effects include low birth weight, small head size, ear and heart defects, and cleft lips and palate.
Meth mouth is a condition that results from the use of methamphetamine. The state is responsible for significant tooth decay and gum disease. Recognizing meth mouth is essential and knowing the symptoms makes it easier to seek treatment early enough. If you or anyone you know is experiencing meth mouth, seek help. Seek help before the condition worsens.