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Illicit Drugs
Illicit drug use can have negative effects on oral health by affecting salivary flow, changing the acidity of the mouth, and by promoting poor dietary habits and laxity in oral hygiene.


Street names: Crystal meth, meth, speed, ice, crank.
Potent central nervous system stimulant that stimulates release and blocks re-uptake of monoamines in the brain.
Can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally.
Rampant caries progression, termed meth mouth, may result from a combination of drug-induced
Xerostomia: Abnormal dryness of the mouth due to insufficient saliva production.
xerostomia, increased consumption of high-calorie, sugared, carbonated beverages, tooth grinding and clenching, and poor oral hygiene. The acidic nature of the drug itself may also contribute to caries formation.
Signs of “meth mouth” include:
Accelerated tooth decay in teens and young adults.
Distinctive pattern of decay on buccal smooth surface of teeth and interproximal surfaces of anterior teeth. (View image in the Chapter 13 Photo Gallery.)
Malnourished appearance of user.
If meth mouth is discovered:
Encourage the patient to stop using the drug, ask if they would like help quitting, and assist them in finding help.
Encourage good oral hygiene.
Refer to a dentist for evaluation.

The oral health effects of cannabis are similar to tobacco and include:
Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums.
Gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Oral cancer.
Methamphetamine use can cause rapid progression of caries in a distinctive pattern - a condition known as meth mouth.
Marijuana use promotes the development of gingivitis, periodontal disease, and cancer.

View the Chapter 13 Photo Gallery.