Meth Mouth

When I was a teenager I had tropical fish. I quickly learned how important the pH level in the water is for fish. Too high or too low and the fish were goners. Since then I have learned that proper pH balance is important for many things, skin health, women’s reproductive health, and it turns out that it’s important for dental health as well.

There is a dental condition known as “meth mouth”. This is a condition where the teeth decay quickly and dramatically, and it is often seen with methamphetamine abusers. My only experience with meth has been a positive one. I am a big fan of the AMC original series, “Breaking Bad”. This show is about a high school chemistry teacher who is stricken with cancer and ends up manufacturing meth in order to make ends meet. I have seen a few seasons and so far no one has suffered from meth mouth; although many other unfortunate things happen to the various meth dealers and users in the show. I am happy to say that’s been the extent of my familiarity with the drug.

The March 2012 issue of  Dentistry Today has an article about a study done by Dr. Michele C. Ravenel in which meth abusers’ dental conditions were studied. Previously it had been thought that meth abusers (as many people who use many drugs do, including over the counter and prescription medications) suffered from dry mouth, or a decrease in saliva resulting in higher decay rates. This study showed that meth users had “No significant difference in salivary flow rates . . . yet results showed significant trends for lower pH . . .” It goes on to recommend that dentists who are treating patients who have a history of meth abuse check the patient’s pH.

What it does not say is how to change the pH back to normal. So I am wondering what is the dentist to do with this information? So the Ph is low, now what? Fix the teeth, now what? Don’t do meth I suppose is the answer. This leads me to wonder about other drugs/medications and if they are also changing patient’s saliva pH levels. No real answers in today’s blog, folks, just the obvious – don’t do meth.

If you need a good dentist please call.

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