Families Advised To Watch For Meth Mouth

Tuesday, April 28th 2009, 5:12 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Terry Hood, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The number of meth labs in the City of Tulsa is on record pace.  Experts say one of the best ways to stop it is to recognize signs of abuse.  There is one sign that doctors say is easy to spot.

It's called meth mouth.

The ingredients used to make meth are dangerous and toxic.  Users often stay high for days on end; they don't eat and rarely brush their teeth.  It is a bad combination that periodontist Dr. David Wong has seen all too often.          

"One of the things that you'll see that is most common is that they'll have tooth decay on tooth surfaces that most people would normally brush," said Dr. David Wong.

Some of the images of meth mouth can be viewed to the right.  Dr. Wong says they may not be easy to look at, but it's important for parents to recognize the symptoms.

He says meth causes the mouth to dry out, meaning there's no saliva to help clean the teeth.  Also, meth users usually drink carbonated beverages with lots of sugar, and then, the hydrochloric acid in the meth takes over attacking tooth enamel.    

Dr. Wong says a close eye on a suspected user's mouth could be the key to getting them help.

"When the outside doesn't match up to the inside and you know your kids or your loved ones better than anybody else, so when that doesn't match up, you know that you may have problem," said Dr. David Wong.

Dr. Wong says some of the signs of meth mouth include chipped or broken teeth and inflamed gum tissue.