Breaking Bad On Your Teeth: Dental Dangers Of Methamphetamine Use

Posted on: 13 March 2015

With the TV show Breaking Bad showing Walter White's rise to power as a drug king, methamphetamine grew in popularity across the world. Most viewers loved Walter for what he was doing for his family. However, the hit series showed very few physical ramifications of meth addiction.

Considering an estimated 12 million people have used the drug at least once, meth addiction is more common than most people believe. From extreme weight loss and hallucinations to cardiovascular disease and death, the physical and emotional effects are endless. While surprising to hear, an addiction to meth can also "break bad" on your teeth. If you or a loved one are addicted to methamphetamine, understanding the dental dangers of the drug will inspire you to seek professional help.

Dental Dangers

The actual chemicals used to create methamphetamine physically affect your mouth, teeth, and gums.  The method of intake and the various habits of meth users also negatively affect your oral health.

Known as Meth Mouth, the changes to your smile are overwhelming and shocking. Here are a few ways the drug damages your teeth and gums:

  • Damage to enamel – When smoking meth, the heated vapors release toxic chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals destroy your tooth enamel. Not only will you experience dark, discolored teeth, but your enamel will also begin flaking away, leading to decay and an unappealing smile.
  • Extreme dryness – Your glands produce an average 1 to 2 liters of saliva each day. This is necessary for "rinsing" away food particles and bacteria. Unfortunately, meth decreases the amount of saliva in your mouth, leading to extreme dryness and an increase in leftover food and bacteria. Over time, this dryness can cause decay and tooth loss.
  • Cravings – Most users experience intense cravings for sugary foods and beverages. Soda and candy are common foods for meth users, which are unhealthy for your teeth and gums.
  • Grinding and clenching – Drug abuse causes serious health problems, but it also affects you emotionally. Many meth users experience serious bouts of paranoia and anxiety while using the drug. Due to this mental stress, you may grind your teeth or clench your jaw. Both of these common acts wear down your teeth, leading to infections, decay, and pain.

Meth mouth is impossible to avoid when abusing this harsh drug. However, seeking professional treatment for your addiction is key to improving your physical health first. Once recovered, you can begin repairing your dental damage.

Dental Treatments

Once out of recovery, visit your dentist to determine the best treatment for your meth mouth. In most cases, your dentist will require a complete medical and dental history including an evaluation from your psychologist or drug counselor. Dentists can fill cavities and treat minor cases of gingivitis or infections with antibiotics, but restoring smiles with tooth decay or lost teeth requires more involved treatment.

After a series of x-rays, your dentist may suggest impressions of the lower and upper teeth before fabricating implants or veneers. If you are missing one or more teeth, surgical implants will be necessary to restore your smile. As with any surgical procedure, slight pain and discomfort is common. As a recovering addict, this pain can be a serious cause for concern. After receiving your implants, work with your dentist to devise a pain relief plan that does not involve traditional pain medications. Alternative pain relief such as warm compresses, ice packs, jaw exercises, and counseling are great options.

Again, if you are struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine, seeking professional help is imperative. While the drug breaks bad on your teeth, your underlying health and well-being must be a priority. After a successful rehabilitation, you can restore your smile back to health. For more information, visit a website like