Methamphetamine abuse: a review of the literature and case report in a young male

SADJ. 2011 Apr;66(3):124-7.


Methamphethamine (TIK) is a highly addictive drug that acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system. It increases wakefulness and physical activity and can cause cardiac dysrhythmias, hypertension, hallucinations and violent behavior. Dental patients abusing methamphetamine often present with poor oral hygiene, xerostomia, rampant caries ("meth mouth") and excessive tooth wear. Management of these conditions is often challenging. A 24-year-old Caucasian man presented with severe dental pain, halitosis and self-reported poor dental appearance. A comprehensive examination including his medical history, panoramic radiographs and extra- and intraoral examination revealed 19 carious and erosive lesions. He reported using methamphetamine for eleven years and had not experienced much caries prior to using the drug. The patient's medical and dental histories along with radiographic and clinical findings led to a diagnosis of "meth mouth." Although various dental treatment options were offered to the patient, he opted for extraction of the most painful teeth in the left lower madibular quadrant and has yet to return for further treatment. This literature review and clinical case description of the oral manifestations of "meth mouth" is intended to alert dental practitioners to recognize and manage patients who are abusing methamphetamines. They should also be aware that these patients are often unreliable at following prevention advice as well as keeping follow-up appointments.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Dental Caries / etiology*
  • Dental Caries / therapy
  • Depression / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects*
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / etiology
  • South Africa
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Tooth Erosion / etiology*
  • Tooth Erosion / therapy
  • Xerostomia / etiology*
  • Xerostomia / therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methamphetamine