Pilot Study of “Meth Mouth”

A study by Dr. Michele C. Ravenel et al analyzed the oral health of subjects with a history of methamphetamine (meth) abuse compared to control subjects with no history of abuse. Abuse of meth, a potent central nervous system stimulant, has been associated with significant dental disease. Current descriptions of "meth mouth" are limited in their scope and fail to illuminate the potential pathogenic mechanisms of meth for oral disease. The study involved a total of 28 meth abusers and 16 control subjects. Interviews and surveys regarding meth abuse, dental history, oral hygiene, and diet were collected. A comprehensive oral cavity examination including salivary characterization was completed. The authors observed significantly higher rates of decayed surfaces, missing teeth, tooth wear, plaque, and calculus among meth abusers. No significant difference in salivary flow rates were noted, yet results showed significant trends for lower pH and decreased buffering capacity. These findings suggest that salivary quality may play a more important role in meth mouth than previously considered. Salivary analysis may be useful when managing a dental patient with history of meth abuse.
(Source: Quintessence International, 2012, Volume 43, Issue 3, pages 229 to 237)