Methamphetamine abuse and dentistry

D. T. Hamamoto, Nelson L Rhodus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Methamphetamine is a highly addictive powerful stimulant that increases wakefulness and physical activity and produces other effects including cardiac dysrhythmias, hypertension, hallucinations, and violent behavior. The prevalence of methamphetamine use is estimated at 35 million people worldwide and 10.4 million people in the United States. In the United States, the prevalence of methamphetamine use is beginning to decline but methamphetamine trafficking and use are still significant problems. Dental patients who abuse methamphetamine can present with poor oral hygiene, xerostomia, rampant caries ('Meth mouth'), and excessive tooth wear. Dental management of methamphetamine users requires obtaining a thorough medical history and performing a careful oral examination. The most important factor in treating the oral effects of methamphetamine is for the patient to stop using the drug. Continued abuse will make it difficult to increase salivary flow and hinder the patient's ability to improve nutrition and oral hygiene. Local anesthetics with vasoconstrictors should be used with care in patients taking methamphetamine because they may result in cardiac dysrhythmias, myocardial infarction, and cerebrovascular accidents. Thus, dental management of patients who use methamphetamine can be challenging. Dentists need to be aware of the clinical presentation and medical risks presented by these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalOral Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Bruxism
  • Caries
  • Dentistry
  • Methamphetamine
  • Xerostomia


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