This literature review will focus on the effects of using
methamphetamine, often abbreviated as meth, on dental health. Four scholarly
articles have been analyzed and summarized to determine that methamphetamine is
a destructive drug where a substantial number of users develop many undesirable
symptoms that are often referred to as “meth mouth”.
Dr. Shaikh’s article, “Meth Mouth,” serves as an informative
text to dental professionals explaining the effects of methamphetamine use and how
severe the negative impact is on a dental patient’s oral health. “Dental
patients who abuse methamphetamine can present with poor oral hygiene,
xerostomia, rampant caries (‘Meth mouth’), and excessive tooth wear.” This
article discusses how the illicit abuse of methamphetamine causes “dental
caries, oral manifestations, periodontal disease, bruxism, xerostomia, oral
ulcers, dental pain, and more” with intentions of educating dental
practitioners on these problems and how to better recognize and manage dental
patients who are methamphetamine abusers (Shaikh, S. S., Modi, P., & Munde, A. D., 2014).
A study took place in Western Cape, South Africa where 308
self-reported users of methamphetamine were evaluated in order to determine the
effects on dental and oral health. According
to the study, users of methamphetamine brush their teeth significantly less
than nonusers, are missing more teeth, and have excessive tooth decay caused
partially by the mouth-drying effects of the drug and a user’s craving to
remoisten the mouth by drinking soda. The study reveals that the longer a
patient abuses the drug, specifically for longer than four years, the higher
the risk of developing “meth mouth” becomes. (Smit, D. A., & Naidoo, S., 2015).
According to the article, “A Comparison of Methamphetamine Users to a Matched NHANES Cohort:
Propensity Score Analyses for Oral Health Care and Dental Service Need,”
users of methamphetamine are “3.5 times more likely to experience painful
toothaches, 6.6 times to experience difficulty eating, and 8.6 times to be
self-conscious due to dental appearance.” The study depicted in the article
tested 459 methamphetamine users from Los Angeles who were at least 18 years of
age, had used methamphetamine within the past month, and who were able to complete
various examinations, including providing a urine sample. The study concluded
that methamphetamine usage has a significant effect on oral health,
specifically resulting in poor oral hygiene, lack of routine dental care,
missing teeth, and poor overall conditions of teeth and gums (Murphy, D. A., Harrell, L.,
Fintzy, R., Belin, T. R., Gutierrez, A., Vitero, S. J., & Shetty, V., 2016).
In the article, “Self-Reported Oral
Health Needs and Dental-Care Seeking Behavior
Women Who Use Methamphetamine,” researchers conducted a study collecting
self-reported data from women who use methamphetamines. The study states that
86% of the participants reported that they have needed oral health care in the
past 6 months, and of that 86%, only 19.6% actually received oral health care.
The study notes, “We did not find an association between the ingestion route,
frequency, or number of years of methamphetamine use and self-reported oral
health need,” however, the study was able to determine that 57% of the
participants were homeless, resulting in an increased rate of poor oral hygiene
and care (Robbins, J.
L., Lorvick, J., Lutnick, A., Wenger, L., & Kral, A. H., 2012).
Reviewing the four academic articles
cited in this literature review conclude that methamphetamine usage affects
dental health in an extremely poor manner. Common symptoms, often referred to
as “meth mouth,” consisting of rampant caries, xerostomia, infrequent oral
hygiene, and an increased consumption of soda drinks, are experienced by many
methamphetamine users. These articles suggest that illicit abuse of
methamphetamine will result in serious oral health problems.