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High rates of dental and gum disease occur among methamphetamine users

Science Spotlight

November 23, 2015

Meth mouth - teeth rottedCourtesy of the American Dental Association

A new study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) documents the high rates and unique patterns of dental decay and gum disease in people who use the illicit drug methamphetamine. The large study of 571 methamphetamine users found that 96 percent had experienced dental cavities and 58 percent had untreated tooth decay. Only 23 percent retained all of their natural teeth, compared to a tooth retention rate of 48 percent among the U.S. general population. The study was conducted by investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The study found that adults reporting moderate or heavy methamphetamine use were twice as likely to have untreated dental cavities than were light users (less than 10 days of use over the past month). Older subjects (ages 30+), women, and current cigarette smokers were disproportionately affected by dental and periodontal disease. In addition, a significant percentage of participants (40 percent) indicated they were often self-conscious or embarrassed due to the condition of their teeth or dentures.

The UCLA researchers emphasized that the high rates and distinctive patterns of cavities could be an important signal to alert dentists to possible methamphetamine use in their patients and the need for a comprehensive treatment that identifies and addresses both their methamphetamine use and oral health problems.

For a copy of the abstract published in the Journal of the American Dental Association go to http://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(15)00977-0/fulltext.

To learn more about methamphetamine, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

Contact:
NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2015, November 23). High rates of dental and gum disease occur among methamphetamine users. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/11/high-rates-dental-gum-disease-occur-among-methamphetamine-users

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