An investigation of the risk factors and effects of methamphetamine on oral health
Smit, Dirk Albertus
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The aim of the study was to document the oral health status of individuals using methamphetamine. Methamphetamine (TIK) is a highly addictive drug that acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system. The clinical picture of methamphetamine abuse is termed “Meth Mouth” and can be explained by contributing factors such as dry mouth, a poor appetite, consumption of large amounts of soft drinks and poor oral hygiene. A cross-sectional study was conducted at 22 different substance addiction treatment centres in the Western Cape. A questionnaire was administered to elicit demographic details, diet, drug addiction, dental status and medical history. The aim of the study was to document the oral health status of methamphetamine users. The study consisted of a convenience sample of 308 participants who used methamphetamine as a primary drug of choice. An oral examination was performed to measure dental caries status (DMFT) and treatment needs. The majority was male, unemployed and between 25 and 29 years old. The mean duration of drug addiction was 6 years predominantly on a daily basis and 93.51% by smoking the drug. The mean DMFT was 10 and dental extractions were the most common procedure performed at the last dental visit. A significant difference was observed between levels of education and the mean number of extractions that were required per participant. The duration of exposure to methamphetamine was related to the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth. The majority experienced a bad taste, stiff facial muscles and a dry mouth when using the drug. Diet included large quantities of liquids (mainly beer and soft drinks) and the majority reported having a poor appetite. Users brushed their teeth less frequently when using methamphetamine.