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Meth Mouth: How Methamphetamine Addiction Can Change Your Appearance

By Nigistry Lulu
This dangerous drug can take a horrible toll on many parts of your body, including your teeth and gums.

Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive drug that can hurt your health and appearance in many ways. One risk of long-term meth use is severe dental damage known as “meth mouth.”  

What Does 'Meth Mouth' Look Like?

Your teeth decay, which could make them look stained, blackened, or rotten. Eventually they could break or fall out. 

"Meth mouth" happens in three stages, Brett Kessler, DDS, tells WebMD Connect to Care. He’s a dentistry practitioner in Denver, CO.

"The first stage is bad breath, cavities, and red, swollen gums, with the front teeth to be the first to decay,” Kessler says. “In the second stage, sores appear on the lips, and gum tissue begins to recede, and decay worsens. In the final stage, teeth decay to the gum line, and teeth may have fallen out."

Badly affected teeth that haven’t fallen out often need to be removed by a dentist, says the American Dental Association (ADA).

What Causes Meth Mouth?

The ADA says methamphetamine may damage your teeth over time for a number of reasons:

  • Meth is acidic.
  • It can dry out your mouth, lessening the amount of saliva to protect your teeth.
  • The drug could make you crave sugary drinks like soda.
  • It can cause you to grind and clench your teeth.
  • It can make you less likely to take care of yourself, which includes brushing your teeth.

The more meth you use, the worse your teeth decay could become, a 2015 study in The Journal of the American Dental Association suggests. The researchers found that certain meth users were likelier to have teeth and gum damage:

  • People 30 or older
  • Women
  • Cigarette smokers  

How Else Can Meth Hurt Your Looks?

Ongoing meth use can damage your appearance in other ways, too, including:

  • Dangerous weight loss, which could make you look too thin
  • Skin sores due to picking and scratching
  • Dull skin or acne

Don't Wait. Get Help Now.

If you or a loved one struggles with meth addiction, reach out for help as soon as possible. It’s possible to recover from methamphetamine abuse and get your life back on track. WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to assist you.

Treatment & Resources for Meth Addiction