Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meth Mouth

Time for your weekly oral health post from your favorite horror/thriller writer:

Someone recently asked me if you could tell if someone had a crystal meth habit by looking at their teeth.  And the answer is a resounding: Hell yeah!  Just like you can tell if someone is bulimic (pitting of the enamel on the back of the teeth).  Or if they smoke (thick generalized stain).  The teeth offer a lot of clues to a person's habits.  Below is a classic example of Meth Mouth.  This is actually the least disgusting picture I could find:

Why do the teeth end up like this?  Five reasons:
  1. Obviously the Meth itself eats away the teeth.  This is the major cause of the break down
  2. The craving for sweet food, which in turn eats away at the soft dentin inside
  3. The lack of proper home care 
  4. Decrease in salivary flow, which helps to neutralize acid and kill bacteria in the mouth
  5. The lack of professional cleanings due to lack of caring about one's appearance
Yes, I have seen it on several occasions.  It is a very obvious, affecting every tooth in the mouth.  The only other thing that even compares to this is baby bottle cavities found in children who drink a lot of milk during the day and are put to bed with a bottle.  Obviously that is NOT as serious in the long run because baby teeth fall out, but there are still issues.
Once Meth Mouth prgoresses this far, there is little to do but extract the teeth and make a denture.
So there you are.  Just like severely stained teeth can point to a tobacco habit (though tea, coffee and wine can also lead to stain), teeth that are dissolved to the gumline are a telltale sign of someone who smokes Meth.

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