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How does methamphetamine drug use cause tooth decay?

Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that can cause shortness of breath, hyperthermia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, permanent brain damage and rampant tooth decay. Some users describe their teeth as "blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling or falling apart." Often, the teeth cannot be salvaged and must be extracted.

The extensive tooth decay is probably caused by a combination of drug-induced psychological and physiological changes resulting in dry mouth and long periods of poor oral hygiene. Some reports have speculated that the acidity of the drug also damages teeth. A methamphetamine "high" lasts much longer than that produced by crack cocaine (12 hours versus one hour for cocaine). This can lead to long periods of poor oral hygiene. And while they are high, users often crave high-calorie, carbonated, sugary beverages or they may grind or clench their teeth, all of which can harm teeth.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.