Many people who use stimulants or MDMA report that they grind their teeth during periods of drug use. This phenomenon is known as bruxism and can cause several problems, including headaches, jaw pain, and damage to teeth.

While it's not clear why drugs cause bruxism, it is thought that bruxism occurs due to the effects of drugs on the body's central nervous system. Other theories suggest that it may result from anxiety or other psychological factors.

Regardless of the cause, bruxism can be a dangerous condition, and it is important to seek treatment if you think you may be affected. Your dentist can help identify the signs of bruxism and recommend appropriate treatments. You can keep your teeth healthy and avoid any long-term damage with proper care.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth. It can occur while a person is awake (awake bruxism) or asleep (sleep bruxism).

Left untreated, bruxism can lead to several serious problems, including jaw pain, headaches, and damage to the teeth. It can also cause sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

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The exact cause of bruxism is not fully understood, but it is thought to be linked to stress or anxiety and drug use.

Bruxism can be caused by medications that act on the nervous system, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and bronchodilators. It can also be a side effect of stimulants, such as caffeine and amphetamines. In some cases, drug-induced bruxism may be caused by illicit drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Persistent bruxism can lead to jaw muscles and tooth damage, headaches, jaw pain, and temporomandibular joint disorder. It can even affect a person's ability to eat and speak properly in severe cases. Beyond bruxism, drugs can also cause a host of other dental issues due to these reasons:

Drugs That Can Cause You to Grind Your Teeth:

Here are some drugs that can cause bruxism:

MDMA

MDMA is a synthetic drug that produces energizing, mood-lifting, and sometimes hallucinogenic effects. It is best known by its street names "ecstasy" or "molly." MDMA is structurally similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, which may account for its ability to produce various effects.

MDMA causes an increase in the activity of three brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Dopamine is involved in the "reward pathway," producing feelings of pleasure. Norepinephrine helps to maintain alertness and focus, while serotonin contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.

These brain chemicals are also responsible for many of the side effects of MDMA use, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, and faintness. One less well-known side effect of MDMA use is bruxism, or teeth grinding.

Research suggests that this may be due to the drug's effects on serotonin levels. Serotonin plays a role in muscle contraction, and an increase in serotonin activity may lead to involuntary muscle spasms, such as teeth grinding. In some cases, bruxism may be severe enough to cause jaw pain or damage to teeth.

Methamphetamine (Meth) 

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a powerful stimulant drug that can seriously affect the body. One of the most common side effects of meth abuse is bruxism, or teeth grinding. Meth users may grind their teeth involuntarily or consciously, and the condition can cause severe dental problems

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While the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it is believed that meth causes an increase in the release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward. The resulting spike in dopamine levels can lead to compulsive behaviors like teeth grinding. In addition, meth constricts blood vessels and reduces saliva production, further contributing to dental health problems. 

Heroin

Opioids, including heroin, are known to make you grind your teeth. This may be due to the drug's psychoactive effects, which can produce feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Historical evidence also suggests that bruxism was common among people who used opium in the 19th century.

Opioids work by binding to receptors in the brain, which can alter neurotransmission and lead to changes in muscle tone and behavior. Teeth grinding may be a side effect of this process. Opioids can also cause dry mouth, leading to tooth decay and other oral health problems.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that has been shown to cause a wide range of physical and mental effects. One of the more commonly reported side effects of cocaine use is that it can make you grind your teeth.

While the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it is thought that the drug alters levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing muscle activity. This can lead to involuntary clenching and grinding of the teeth, which can cause headaches, jaw pain, and dental damage. In some cases, bruxism may also be related to anxiety or psychosis, which are common side effects of cocaine use.

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Treatment Options for Bruxism

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common side effect of stimulant or MDMA use. The constant clenching and grinding can damage the teeth and cause gum inflammation. In severe cases, it can even result in tooth loss.

Luckily, a few things can be done to help alleviate the symptoms of bruxism.

  1. First, you'll need to stop using drugs that cause bruxism. If you are dealing with an MDMA, heroin, or meth addiction, it's best to seek addiction treatment to get off of the drugs.
  2. Stay hydrated and avoid foods that are high in acidity. This will help to protect your teeth from further damage.
  3. Adopt lifestyle changes - reduce stress, cut back on stimulant use, etc.
  4. It is also important to take breaks during extended periods of drug use and avoid using the drug when feeling stressed or anxious.
  5. If bruxism persists, several treatments can be used to reduce the symptoms, including Botox injections, night guards, pacifiers, and bite plates.
  6. Taking these steps makes it possible to minimize the impact of bruxism and protect your teeth and gums.

 

Treatment for Drug Abuse

If you are experiencing teeth grinding due to stimulant or MDMA use, it is important to seek treatment. Teeth grinding can be caused by many things and is often treatable. There are a variety of treatments available depending on the cause of your teeth grinding.

Treatment for drug abuse will also address any associated teeth grinding. If you are concerned about your teeth grinding, please talk to your doctor or addiction specialist. They can help you find the best course of treatment for you.

Meth users have a range of symptoms that are commonly seen in people with other substance abuse disorders. They experience high blood pressure, increased heart rate, as well as strong delusions and paranoia. Like other drug addicts, they may also suffer from memory loss, brain damage, stroke, mental health disorders, among other issues with long term use. However, meth users have a few signs that are specific to the drug, like meth mouth, which we will explore in this article.

Methamphetamine is one of the most commonly abused synthetic drugs in the world. In the US alone, 5% of the population, or 12.3 million people, have used meth at least once in their lifetime. Another 600,000 Americans use it every week. But you shouldn’t mistake its popularity for something good.

Meth is a dangerously addictive drug that can cause severe addiction and mental and physical health issues.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise because meth is made from strong industrial chemicals corrosive to the body. Again, it comes in a wide variety of forms – including tablets, powder, or crystals. This makes it easier for users to smoke, inject, sniff/snort, eat, or swallow depending on their environment and preferences.

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Crystal meth can be smoked, snorted, ingested or injected with needles.

How to identify meth use

Unlike other drugs such as cocaine and heroin, its cravings are way more intense. Meth users will go on a “run” where they keep on ingesting the drug for long periods until they overdose or run out of their supply. So, the signs will be evident within a few weeks of use.

Meth addiction is difficult to hide because it causes open skin sores and eats away at the teeth. The harshness of meth’s chemical makeup makes it corrosive to both soft and hard tissue. The acid in the drug eats away the user’s tooth enamel, causing rapid decay. It also corrodes the gum, causing it to bleed and pull away from the tooth. Dental issues associated with meth abuse are referred to as meth teeth or meth mouth.

Meth mouth

Meth can be devastating to one’s dental health. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, it’s use can cause extensive tooth decay, dry mouth, gum disease, and cracked teeth that affect the smile of users and their ability to chew. Meth mouth describes the visible effects of oral disease in a user due to rampant tooth decay and gum disease that happens with the drug use.

When someone ingests or smokes meth, they will rot their gums, teeth, and surrounding tissues. In most cases, they will experience painful dental abscesses and oral sores and even lose their teeth, and parts of their lips or mouth like tonsils, and tongue. Of the 571 meth users in the JADA’s 2015 study:

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Meth abuse can cause a variety of negative health consequences.

According to the American Dental Association, the pattern of cavities found in meth users is similar to those in baby teeth. Meth abusers are twice as likely to have cavities, twice as likely to have at least two decayed, missing or filled teeth, and four times as likely to have ever developed cavities compared to the general population.

Why does meth affect the teeth?

One of the few ways meth affects the teeth is through hyposalivation (or dry mouth). Saliva is usually the first line of defense in fighting harmful bacteria in the mouth. The enzymes in saliva buffer acids and moisturize the mouth, keeping it in a homeostasis state. But meth use affects salivary glands, preventing the production of saliva, resulting in dry mouth.

Although studies and debates regarding meth use and tooth decay are still ongoing, one theory suggests that meth narrows blood vessels in salivary glands, inhibiting saliva flow. Other theories argue that drug abuse affects the parts of the brain that controls the salivary glands. Either way, meth, by itself, contains some level of acidity which directly affects the teeth.

Additionally, meth users drink lots of fizzy drinks to combat the effects of very dry mouth. But with little to no saliva in the mouth, that only creates an even better environment for bacteria to thrive.

To make matters worse, meth users grind or clench their teeth due to drug-induced nervousness, anxiety, and physical stimulation. Add that to already decaying or corroding enamel, as the situation gets out of hand.

And when all the focus is on acquiring and consuming the drug, methamphetamine users are less likely to practice good dental hygiene like flossing or brushing. Most of them won’t take care of their overall body, let alone oral health. And since the meth high lasts up to 12 hours, that’s a long enough time for acids to erode the teeth.

Can meth mouth be reversed?

People who struggle with meth addiction and its effects may benefit from addiction treatment. Treatment programs exist to help those who abuse meth to quit and lead normal healthy lives. Most of them offer holistic treatments to address the underlying problem along with the side effects of using, like meth mouth, or skin sores, etc. However, like most conditions, it’s always best to catch the addiction early, before things have gotten out of hand.

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A long-term addiction to methamphetamine can become deadly without proper treatment.

Meth mouth is incurable if the damage is widespread. This is why the importance of early treatment can never be overstated. Gum diseases and tooth decay, for instance, are highly treatable when caught early. But it might prove a challenge when the damage is severe. When untreated for prolonged periods, the patient may need extractions, dentures, and implants to reconstruct the damage.

Conclusion

The use of meth is linked to a range of severe health issues and irreversible mental and physical damage. Effects like bone and tooth loss, scarring, heart issues, organ failure, and permanent memory loss are common among meth users. Studies even show that long term use of meth can induce changes similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s therefore essential for the patients to go enroll to reputable treatment centers for medical detox and rehabilitation. Treatments can help fight the addiction, and resulting problems.

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