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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Methamphetamine Use and Oral Health (Meth Mouth)

Methamphetamine Use and Oral Health (Meth Mouth)

Methamphetamine use is on the rise in the World because Meth is cheap, easy to make and causes a high that lasts up to 12 hours.  Dental health professionals need to be aware of this trend and be prepared to handle cases of Meth Mouth that come into their practices.  Meth use has been linked to severe oral health effects along with being a potent central nervous system stimulant that can cause brain damage that can be permanent.  Dental health professionals should be prepared to recognize the signs of Meth mouth and understand the treatment considerations for users of this drug.

What Dental Professionals should be prepared to look for:       
  1. Decay in teenagers and young adults that is unaccounted for and accelerated.
  2. A pattern of decay that is distinctive, often on the buccal smooth surface of the teeth and the interproximal surfaces of anterior teeth.
  3. Patients who have a “malnourished” appearance due to the fact that Meth acts as an appetite suppressant.     

What should Dental professionals do if they suspect Methamphetamine use?
  •      Take a thorough dental and medical history before completing a comprehensive oral evaluation.
  •     Convey consternation about the dental findings to the patient or the parent if the patient is a minor child.
  •     Be prepared to give the patient the phone number of a local physician, if the patient is receptive to a medical consultation, and know how to focus on the physician’s protocol so that the patient knows what to anticipate.
  • Employ preventive measures such as topical fluoride treatments.
  •     Try to persuade the patient to drink water instead of drinks high in sugar content and carbonation.
  •      Be guarded when administering local anesthetics, sedatives, nitrous oxide or general anesthesia, and prescribe narcotics cautiously.
  •     Take advantage of the opportunity to educate your patient about the risks associated with and the dangers of methamphetamine or any illicit drug use.

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