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MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) -- The growing use of highly addictive methamphetamine throughout the country is creating a prominent scar on an increasing number of users - rotting, brittle teeth that seem to crumble from their mouths.
Methamphetamine can be made with a horrid mix of substances, including over-the-counter cold medicine, fertilizer, battery acid and hydrogen peroxide. Together, the chemicals reduce a user's saliva, which neutralizes acids and physically clears food from the teeth, said Dr. Eric Curtis, an Arizona-based spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry.
"When the saliva isn't flowing, the bacteria build up a lot faster," said Dr. Darrell Morton, an Atlanta dentist.
Jeffery Lotshaw flossed regularly. He brushed faithfully, sometimes four or five times in a day.
All that care makes his condition seem incomprehensible - at the age of just 33, Lotshaw's grin is toothless. His teeth all broke apart, tarnished with yellow and black.
"Before I started doing meth, I didn't have a cavity in my head," said Lotshaw, imprisoned on drug charges at Missouri's Maryville Treatment Center.
Meth users also may neglect their teeth, or moisten their dry mouths with high-sugar drinks, and anxiety caused by the drug prompts them to grind their teeth, which speeds decay.
The problem is particularly noticeable among inmates, whose oral problems have some prison systems struggling to provide dental care.
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"They're rotting teeth, missing teeth, rotting way into the gums," said Kathy Bachmeier, the head of medical services for North Dakota's prisons. "It's ugly."
There are no statistics on "meth mouth" - as the condition has come to be known - because addicts are sometimes reluctant to admit their drug use and because it is difficult to distinguish between damage done by bad dental hygiene and that caused by narcotics. But there are signs it is on the rise around the country.
The head of the company in charge of dental care for Missouri inmates says he is seeing teeth rotted by meth use nearly every day. In North Dakota, the number of days a dentist was serving inmates jumped from 50 in 2000 to 78 in 2004. And the tab for inmates' dental care in Minnesota rose from $1.2 million five years ago to about $2 million last year.
> Methamphetamine can be made with a horrid mix of substances, including over-the-counter cold medicine, fertilizer, battery acid and hydrogen peroxide.
Yep, and salt is made from a horrid mix of substances, including chlorine and sodium. The real risk here is if the final product is not well cleaned. Of course, if all drugs were legal, this would not be a problem.
> Together, the chemicals reduce a user's saliva
Bzzt. The chemicals have nothing to do with it, while meth itself has everything to do with it. Meth works just like a diet pill and turns off the hunger part of the brain. No hunger, no saliva.
> Meth users also may neglect their teeth, or moisten their dry mouths with high-sugar drinks, and anxiety caused by the drug prompts them to grind their teeth, which speeds decay.
Lots of people neglect their teeth, though I do agree that people with addictions tend to care more about their fix than their health. Yes, people grind their teeth while on meth, but anxiety has nothing to do with it. I don't know anybody that likes 'high sugar drinks' while on meth... sugar and meth don't mix very well.
-------------------- Just another spore in the wind.
More precisely, sulfuric acid, which is also used to make many prescription drugs.
Ah, yes, that horrid substance used to clean wounds and which is added to toothpaste and mouthwash to kill germs.
-------------------- Republican Values:
1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.