Meth Mouth: Is it in Your Chair?

DeAngelo, Vincenza, Jacqueline Hobbs, Wassan Sliwa, Marie Terokowski, and Lindsey VanDeWinkle

Purpose

Methamphetamine is a rising epidemic in the United States, particularly in rural communities. Methamphetamine, street name “meth”, is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be snorted, injected, smoked, or ingested orally. It is important for health care professionals to correctly identify the characteristics a patient may display while undergoing routine dental procedures. Suspicions of methamphetamine use can be observed through the patient‟s signs, symptoms, and behaviors. As a health care professional, it is our responsibility to be equipped to assess this situation and provide outlets to counseling and treatments.

Summary

Clinically observable signs include xerostomia, cervical caries, fractured teeth, and neglected oral hygiene. This by itself may be difficult to definitively diagnose as “meth mouth”, therefore clinicians should be aware of other signs and symptoms, including but not limited to, malnutrition, lack of personal hygiene, scratching, and twitching. After ruling out other possible diagnoses, dental professionals should be well equipped to provide early interventions such as dietary counseling, fluoride therapy, plaque control, and patient compliance. If the patient is receptive to receiving care for the addiction, the dental professional should have available informational pamphlets on support centers, and rehab facilities.

Conclusion

Methamphetamine abuse is a reality in society today. As clinicians we need to be aware of the characteristics associated with this addiction and how to carry out proper treatment to best serve the patient‟s overall being.