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Quintessence Publishing: Journals: QI
Quintessence International

Edited by Eli Eliav

ISSN 0033-6572 (print) • ISSN 1936-7163 (online)

March 2012
Volume 43 , Issue 3

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Methamphetamine abuse and oral health: A pilot study of “meth mouth”

Michele C. Ravenel, DMD/Carlos F. Salinas, DDS/Nicole M. Marlow, MS/Elizabeth H. Slate, PhD/Zachary P. Evans, PhD/Peter M. Miller, PhD

Pages: 229–237
PMID: 22299123

Abuse of methamphetamine (meth), a potent central nervous system stimulant, has been associated with significant dental disease. Current descriptions of “meth mouth” are limited in their scope and fail to illuminate the potential pathogenic mechanisms of meth for oral disease. The purpose of this pilot study was to characterize the oral health of subjects with a history of meth abuse as compared to nonabusing control subjects. A total of 28 meth abusers and 16 control subjects were enrolled. Interviews and surveys regarding meth abuse, dental history, oral hygiene, and diet were collected. A comprehensive oral cavity examination including salivary characterization was completed. We observed significantly higher rates of decayed surfaces, missing teeth, tooth wear, plaque, and calculus among meth abusers. No significant difference in salivary flow rates were noted, yet results showed significant trends for lower pH and decreased buffering capacity. These findings suggest that salivary quality may play a more important role in meth mouth than previously considered. Salivary analysis may be useful when managing a dental patient with history of methamphetamine abuse. (Quintessence Int 2012;43:229–237)

Key words: dental caries, methamphetamine, saliva

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