Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Methamphetamine has been the bane of America for some time now, destroying lives at an accelerated rate; long-term use of the drug can lead to a slew of problems, including terrible: medical, psychological, sociological consequences - as well as mood disturbances and violent behavior. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that more than 10 million Americans have tried methamphetamine, while more than 1.4 million are habitual users.
Methamphetamine literally eats away at you from the inside out - with the potential to damage major organs as well as one’s teeth. Methamphetamine addicts develop something called “Meth Mouth” which is an accelerated dental disease. “Very little is known about the epidemiology of "meth mouth" or the underlying mechanisms that contribute to accelerated dental decay”, according to Medical News Today; a hindrance to dentists who are unable to spot the disease in its early stages and are then unable to set up the best practices for treating the condition.
If dentists were trained to identify “Meth Mouth” early on, they might be able to guide the addict to help on top of fixing their teeth. In many ways dentists have the ability to be the first line of defense on the war on meth. UCLA was recently granted $1.86 million from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the destruction of the oral cavity by methamphetamine use.
“Our finding that dental disease is a prominent marker of methamphetamine use creates opportunities to implement targeted interventions in the dental office - a hitherto unexploited setting in the management of this epidemic”, Dr. Vivek Shetty, a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery said. “Funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse will allow us to further characterize methamphetamine's oral disease burden so as to support dental professionals who, as oral health specialists, are in a unique position to detect the drug's use and participate as integral members of a collaborative care team tending to methamphetamine users”.
University of California - Los Angeles
Medical News Today