The other night I watched a documentary on the dental effects of methamphetamines, so called meth mouth.

I did some subsequent research on meth mouth and found the topic alarming, since it seems the use of methamphetamines is on the rise.

It's a frightening problem since people tend to lose their teeth in a year or two and dentists often miss the diagnosis.

Methamphetamine Use and Oral Health (Meth Mouth) (1)

Methamphetamine is a cheap, easy-to-make illicit drug. It?s known by several street names: Meth, Speed, Ice, Chalk, Crank, Fire, Glass, and Crystal. It is highly addictive and its use is on the rise in the U.S. even though it produces devastating effects on users? health.

Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that can cause shortness of breath, hyperthermia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, permanent brain damage and rampant tooth decay. Some users describe their teeth as ?blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling or falling apart.? Often, the teeth cannot be salvaged and must be extracted.

The extensive tooth decay is attributed to the drug?s acidic nature and its tendency to dry mouth tissues. A methamphetamine ?high? lasts much longer than that produced by crack cocaine (12 hours versus one hour for cocaine). This can lead to long periods of poor oral hygiene. And while they are high, users often crave high-calorie, carbonated, sugary beverages or they may grind or clench their teeth, all of which can harm teeth.

Heavy users may appear malnourished because methamphetamine acts as an appetite suppressant.

According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 12.3 million Americans age 12 and older had tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetimes (5.2 percent of the population), with the majority of past-year users between 18 and 34 years of age. Significant decreases in the past year use were seen among 12- to 17-year-olds.

Traffickers have aggressively targeted rural areas in an effort to escape law enforcement, and most use is found in the western, southwestern, and midwestern U.S.

(1) Source

Would you swallow a spoonful of drain cleaner? Does the thought of injecting brake fluid into your arm appeal to you? Care to top off your dessert with a bit of rat poison?

These are just a few of the common ingredients in Meth.

METH Awareness And Prevention Project of South Dakota appears to be an informative resource on methamphetamine use.

What are some other helpful resources for people wanting help with meth?