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Methamphetamine hard on the teeth
Methamphetamine -- a powerfully addictive stimulant drug, also known as meth, crank, crystal and speed, can seriously damage the teeth, ruining a person's smile and natural ability to chew, the American Dental Association warns.

Thursday, October 5, 2006. NEW YORK - Methamphetamine -- a powerfully addictive stimulant drug, also known as meth, crank, crystal and speed, can seriously damage the teeth, ruining a person's smile and natural ability to chew, the American Dental Association warns.



Dentists are seeing "more and more of a condition that we call 'meth mouth,'" said Dr. Robert Brandjord, a practicing oral surgeon in Burnsville, Minnesota, and president of the ADA.



In just 1 year's time, meth users can go from having healthy teeth to extensive tooth decay and eventually tooth loss, according to Brandjord. "Often the teeth cannot be salvaged and must be extracted," the ADA states in educational materials posted on their web site (www.ada.org).



The extensive tooth decay is due to methamphetamine's acidic nature, which destroys tooth-protecting enamel, and its tendency to dry the mouth, robbing it of saliva, which is essential to keep the mouth clean.



Moreover, a methamphetamine "high" lasts much longer than a crack cocaine high (12 hours versus 1 hour) and this can lead to long periods when users are unlikely to think about cleaning their teeth.



While high on meth, users often crave high-calorie, carbonated sugar-packed beverages and users often grind and clench their teeth.



"Meth mouth" can rob users, "especially young people, of their teeth and



frequently leads to full-mouth extractions and a lifetime of wearing dentures," Brandjord said.



According to the a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 12 million Americans age 12 and older have tried methamphetamine, which can be swallowed, injected, snorted or smoked. The majority of users are between 18 and 34 years of age.



"Very few people understand the broad dangers methamphetamine poses," said Stephen Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America in a statement.


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