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Elizabeth Duling, DMD - Owens Cross Roads & Hampton Cove Dentistry

Meth Mouth or Diet Soda Mouth

August 1, 2017

Many people are aware of the damaging effects of illicit drugs on teeth, but few are aware that some legal substances can be just as destructive.  Recently, meth mouth has become more prevalent.  It is characterized by rapid and extensive decay that starts around the gum line and is usually black, as the teeth decay they break and become little more than stumps.  Scientists have noted that a similar legal substance that many (including me) consume every day can produce a similar effect. Diet soda addiction coupled with poor oral hygiene can be just as destructive as meth.  How is this possible?!  

 

Meth and diet soda erode tooth enamel because they are acids.  The lower the pH of a substance the more acidic or corrosive it is.  Diet cola has a pH of 3.39.  Diet mountain dew has a pH of 3.34. Methamphetamine smoke has a pH of 5.0 on average.  By this measure, diet soda is more dangerous.  Energy drinks have similar qualities and can produce similar effects.

 

Both substances have a psychostimulant effect.  Both trigger the rewards center of the brain.  Both substances also trigger the release of dopamine ( a feel good chemical).  Aspartame is responsible in diet soda for the release of this powerful brain chemical.   Psycho-stimulation and dopamine production make both substances addictive.  The more we have, the more we want.  Obviously, meth is more effective at both of these, but the connection remains.  The addictive nature of the substances plays a significant role because it means we want to use it frequently.  Frequent application of an acid to teeth causes rampant, aggressive decay. 

 

So what can we do?  Ask any caffeine addict or diet soda addict to give up their drink of choice and they will think you are crazy.  Staying away from these drinks is the best bet.  If you cannot quit try to limit the drinking of diet sodas to meal times only.  Do not sip all day long!  The more time your mouth is exposed the worse the effects.  Swishing with water or chewing sugar free gum can also help to increase the pH after indulging.  Flouride supplementation can help to limit decay.  Act flouride rinse is a great option that is readily available.  Some dentists recommend a prescription level flouride to further

 

decrease decay rates.  Of course regular visits to your dentist will help to detect problems early.  For more information see your dentist!

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