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Dental Problems Could Point to Meth Use

Last Updated: March 03, 2010.

The more severe the addiction, the greater the decay, study finds.

WEDNESDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- Severe dental problems in otherwise healthy young people could be a sign of methamphetamine addiction, a new study suggests.

Researchers collected medical, oral health and substance use data from 300 methamphetamine-dependent adults and compared it with data from non-meth users from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

About 40 percent of meth users have serious dental problems, including more missing teeth than those who don't use the drug, according to the researchers, from the University of California, Los Angeles. They also found that meth users who smoke or inhale the drug have lower rates of dental disease, compared to those who inject the drug and are more likely to have a severe addiction.

The finding that dental disease is a distinct marker of methamphetamine abuse means that dentists can play an important role in the early detection of drug abuse and in the collaborative care of meth users, the researchers said.

The study is published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about methamphetamine.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, news release, March 1, 2010

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