Dental Tribune USA

ADA supports ‘meth mouth’ legislation

By Fred Michmershuizen, DTA
February 23, 2009

Dr John S. Findley, president of the American Dental Association (ADA), applauded American legislators for recently introducing a federal bill aimed at understanding and treating ‘meth mouth’—a condition where teeth can become blackened, stained, rotting and crumbling from methamphetamine (meth) use.

According to the ADA, if the bill is passed into law it will fund local, school-based initiatives to educate primary and elementary school students about the oral health aspects of meth use. It will also enhance federal research and promote a series of continuing education activities for dentists to learn more about substance use disorders and their relationship to oral health and dental care.

Dr Findley expressed his strong approval of the bill, saying that little is known about the actual causes of meth mouth. However, it is known that the drug can cause dry mouth, which in turn can increase dental caries. Drug users also have a tendency to grind and clench their teeth. Few studies have been published about its prevalence, causes, or its cost to the public.

“This condition robs the young and old alike of their oral health, thereby jeopardizing their overall health,” said Dr Findley in a statement released after the bill’s introduction. “It can lead to a lifetime of wearing dentures. We applaud these senators for helping us to better understand causes of this health condition.”

Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the bill on 13 February. It is co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Charles Schumer of New York, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Jon Tester of Montana.

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