Re: Meth Mouth
Dear Sir or Madam,
Although "meth mouth" is certainly part of a
methamphetamine users problems, it is also a problem to NON
USERS, from other kinds of exposures. Besides “meth mouth”
there is a health deterioration problem associated both with
methamphetamine use or exposure. I would like to clarify some
information which has not yet surfaced but effects many, who are
NOT meth users, and never were. These are what are called
"inadvertent or innocent exposure victims". These victims
include 'First Responding officials' including firemen, police,
DEA, and utility workers, and others with special interest who
were busting methamphetamine labs.. These people may develop the
same classic symptoms of "meth mouth" and health deterioration,
yet may have never taken methamphetamine. Also people living
in residences where clandestine methamphetamine labs had been,
but the residence was not discovered, or was not disclosed to
later residents, may also develop the same classic symptoms of
'meth mouth' or health deterioration.
Laws governing prosecution of manufacturers forbids
taking histories of their former residential labs, if those
former residences are not an 'active lab" at the time of arrest.
So many residences are never 'discovered'. Disclosure laws
would allow future renters or owners to be warned a residence
was busted, but are not in place in most states.
The problem of residences which are toxic, but
undiscovered, or undisclosed is not what it seems at first
glance. Most assume a manufacturer is in their first site of
manufacturing when they are arrested. This is not true.
According to officials involved in clean ups and arrests,
manufacturers had been in the 'business' for an average of
between 6 and 7 years. A grant study in 1986 by Portland Oregon
Police and Firemen Risk Management (Funded by DEA and Institute
of Criminal Justice) was done to determine if the effects on
the teeth and health of their officers was due to their exposure
to residential labs (Associate Press release reported Portland
Oregon's “First Responders” lost teeth, got cancer and died).
The answer was, residences used for manufacturing
methamphetamine were toxic until cleaned up, exposure can cause
illness and dental problems. In Oregon, laws were passed setting
up standards of toxicity levels appropriate for future
habitation of residences used formerly for manufacturing, and
how to clean them up, and disclosure. Oregon also passed laws
prohibiting the selling of chemicals which were being used in
manufacturing (before 1986), to thwart manufacturing. But these
laws had a sad and ironic twist. Manufacturers began
manufacturing by a new method, and it made their production
quicker. This had the effect that a manufacturer could move as
often as every few days to avoid detection. Where as by the
older method, manufacturers had to stay put longer to avoid
detection, on average moves were every 6 months to a year.
Manufacturers may move every few days for any given
year. (thus each could use 100 residences per years)
Most are in business (average) 6 to 7 years. (each
could produce 600+ residences per area, before being arrested;
100 X 6)
Most enforcement areas report 30 busts of manufacturing
sites per week, per enforcement area. (each week could
represent about 18,000 homes per area, made toxic by those
arrested; 100 X 6 X 30)
52 weeks per year (each year could represent 930,000
residences per area, made toxic by those arrested; 100 X 6 X 30
How do I know these things? I have spent 3 years (since
2002) doing research with EPA and other agencies. Why did I do
the research? Our family was had inadvertent innocent exposure,
in a rental residence in 1989. We found out about our exposure
at 6 months into a year long occupancy. When we moved into the
residence (June 1989) there was a strange smell in the
residence, however we were assured by the rental agent it was
due to the former tenants having had animals, and the residence
being shut up in 100+ degree weather for 2 months without air
conditioning. The smell was like a diaper pail left for much too
long (sour urine and fecal smell), and also like nail polish
remover. We installed an evaporative cooler, which blew air out
of the home with moisture in it, for a cooling effect. When the
weather cooled (late October 1989) I turned off the evaporative
cooler. The smell was still present, so the carpet in the most
offensive room was removed. The carpet layers found copious
amounts of white powder under both the carpet and pad. They said
they saw this same thing under many of the carpets they removed.
They tasted it and said it was methamphetamine, a street drug,
which was being manufactured in residences. They explained to us
what methamphetamine was, but not the dangers to our heath. My
husband, our 5 kids, and I were often ill while living in that
home. We began getting ill within a few weeks of our move into
the house, and were ill even after we moved out. Within 2 years
of our move out of that house, in February 1992, my husband was
diagnosed with cancer, and simultaneously I with Pneumonia,
Mononucleosis, Epstein Barr Syndrome and Cyto Meglia Virus (all
at the same time). Our children had many odd diseases which did
not respond to normal health professional protocols and were
unexplained. In March 1992, I called the Federal EPA and Poison
Control to ask if there was any correlation of our exposure, to
our illnesses. They said no statistics were available
correlating the two. In 1994, my husband died of cancer. My
children and I have been ill off an on since, although before
that rental residence we each enjoyed robust health. In 2002, I
read an Associated press release about Portland Oregon's First
Responders who had lost their teeth, gotten cancer and died. I
called Federal EPA and Poison Control (July 2002) and told them
I had read the Associated Press article and asked if it was
accurate, and if there now was statistical evidence of a
correlation between exposure and dental deterioration and
illnesses. They said yes. I also asked what were our treatment
options. They said they did not know. I called the Regional
office of the EPA and asked the same questions. They repeated
that yes, there was a correlation of illnesses to exposure, but
they did not know of treatments. Thus began my research.
Recently in People Magazine (July 8, 2005)
innocent/inadvertent exposure victims are featured., v64 16
p50, people who inadvertently lived in former labs (due to
absent disclosure laws) and who became ill. As well as web
articles of Sheriff, Police and Firemen who became ill from
their exposures during busts of meth labs.
Here is the INSULT added to the injury.
Inadvertent/innocent exposure may be more common than addiction
to methamphetamine, due to the sheer numbers of residences
undiscovered or not disclosed as former meth labs (see above).
Websites now inform Dentists and health professionals
incorrectly that anyone with the “profile of symptoms” of “meth
mouth” or health deterioration, is GUILTY of having been a user.
No other syndromes, illnesses, circumstances are sited for
symptoms, although many exist. Many of the websites I visited
with these incorrect assumptions, also encouraged citizens to
follow and watch “meth suspects”, which amounts to defamation of
character (assumption of use) and stalking (a first degree
Methamphetamine is a big, ugly problem. But dentists,
health professionals or private citizens taking action by
becoming character assassinating, stalking, vigilantes is
illegal and immoral.
On 6/12/05, Drug King wrote:
> meth mouth .
> Try to warn your students about the effects of drugs,
> even "legal" drugs, on the body, especially meth nowadays.
> Grisly Effect of One Drug: 'Meth Mouth'; By MONICA DAVEY
> Published: June 11, 2005 , NY Times;
> From the moment on Thursday when the young man sat down in
> Dr. Richard Stein's dental chair in southwestern Kansas and
> opened his mouth, Dr. Stein was certain he recognized the
> enemy. This had to be the work, he concluded, of
> methamphetamine, a drug that is leaving its mark, especially
> in the rural regions of the Midwest and the South, on
> families, crime rates, economies, legislatures - and teeth.
> Quite distinct from the oral damage done by other drugs,
> sugar and smoking, methamphetamine seems to be taking a
> unique, and horrific, toll inside its users' mouths. In
> short stretches of time, sometimes just months, a perfectly
> healthy set of teeth can turn a grayish-brown, twist and
> begin to fall out, and take on a peculiar texture less like
> that of hard enamel and more like that of a piece of ripened
> The condition, known to some as meth mouth, has been studied
> little in dentistry's academic circles and is unknown to
> many dentists, whose patients are increasingly focused on
> cosmetic issues: the bleaching and perfect veneers of
> television's makeover shows. But other dentists, especially
> those in the open, empty swaths of land where
> methamphetamine is being manufactured in homemade
> laboratories, say they are seeing a growing number of such
> These are the same towns, in some cases, that have wrestled
> in recent years with shortages of dentists. They are places
> where dentists have struggled to sell their practices as
> populations shrink; where new dentists have been reluctant
> to settle, out of fear that they will not get enough
> business to make ends meet; and where political leaders have
> offered financial incentives to lure young dentists to town.
> For good or ill, meth mouth is creating more business.
> East of Dr. Stein's Dodge City office, in Independence,
> Kan., Dr. Cynthia E. Sherwood said she too had seen such
> patients lately, including a woman whose teeth had been
> transformed into "little black stubs" too painful to brush
> and who wound up losing all her top teeth and six of her
> lower ones. Among similar patients Dr. Charles Tatlock has
> seen in his New Mexico office, he said, was one who, though
> only 17, needed dentures to replace his suddenly decayed
> And in Tennessee, Dr. Daniel D. Roberts gave up his ordinary
> practice not long ago to handle a growing workload at 10
> jails across the state, nearly a third of whose prisoners,
> he estimates, have ravaged teeth owing to methamphetamine.
> "This is the worst thing to come along in a long time," Dr.
> Roberts said the other day. "At this point, I'm digging for
> tooth roots. That's how I make my living."
> Some dentists have their own hypotheses about precisely what
> causes the condition.
> Dr. John W. Shaner, an associate professor at the Creighton
> University Medical Center School of Dentistry, in Omaha,
> said he believed that a combination of factors tied to the
> use of methamphetamine led to such enormous damage.
> The drug itself, a synthetic stimulant that can be
> manufactured just about anywhere, causes dry mouth, Dr.
> Shaner said, and that in turn allows decay to start, since
> saliva is unavailable to help control bacteria in the mouth.
> The drug also tends to leave users thirsty and craving a
> constant supply of soda pop and other sugary drinks, which
> spur the decay; Mountain Dew, he said, has become the
> preferred drink of methamphetamine users. At the same time,
> the drug's highly addictive nature causes many users simply
> to stop doing what is needed to take care of themselves,
> including the brushing of teeth.
> Other dentists said they suspected that the caustic
> ingredients of the drug - whether smoked, injected, snorted
> or eaten - contributed to the damage, which tends to start
> near the gums and wander to the edges of teeth. Among
> ingredients that can be used to make meth are red phosphorus
> found in the strips on boxes of matches and lithium from car
> There are also dentists who point to methamphetamine users'
> tendency to grind and clench their teeth nervously,
> aggravating the frighteningly twisted and tangled look of
> meth mouth.
> If the man sitting in Dr. Stein's Kansas office on Thursday,
> who readily admitted having used methamphetamine, gets all
> the work done that he needs - X-rays, fillings and crowns,
> and implants for the teeth now missing from his mouth - he
> will require many visits, and the bill could run to as much
> as $7,000. [... and more in the near future. ]
> Most dentists, though, say this is hardly the growth
> industry any of them would wish for. The patients are grim,
> their teeth grimmer. Many of these young people, the
> dentists say, may end up with no teeth at all but with
> dentures, which some in dentistry had come to believe would
> soon be mostly relics of the past, even for the elderly, in
> an age of water fluoridation and other technology.
> "The real market for dentistry is in saving teeth, in
> helping people have dental health," said Dr. Stein, 57. "But
> I've seen a lot. I'm not a drug counselor, and I'm long past
> lecturing, but this is a sorry situation."
> Dr. Shaner said meth mouth might be little recognized in
> many places - even as the drug has spread from one coast to
> the other and from rural areas into cities - because
> methamphetamine is a problem that has had a chance to sink
> in longer in places like Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri and
> because the effects to teeth are often most obvious in
> pockets like prison populations. He said he hoped to present
> information on the topic at a conference of the American
> Dental Association next year.
> With the exception of a few formal studies, including one
> now beginning in New Mexico, meth mouth has so far been less
> a topic of academic analysis in the dental profession than a
> matter for casual phone conversations and e-mail exchanges
> between dentists in small places.
> "The truth is, very little is known yet," said Dr. Stephen
> Wagner, who specializes in dentures and implants in his
> private practice and who in coming months will be studying
> 20 afflicted patients with Dr. Tatlock, an assistant
> professor at the University of New Mexico. "What I can tell
> you is what I have seen: It looks like someone has taken a
> hammer to these teeth and shattered them."
> One of the strangest truths of the condition, dentists said,
> is that despite the truly grisly look, many patients do not
> report suffering from as much pain as one would expect. Or
> at least, these dentists said, they do not report such pain
> while still using methamphetamine.
> Though the condition has begun turning up in private
> practices, particularly in cases of emergency care and among
> recovering addicts, it is far more prevalent in the dental
> offices of the nation's jails and prisons.
> Local sheriffs in Midwestern and Southern counties have
> complained of soaring dental costs in their jails. In North
> Dakota, more dentures have been needed in the state
> penitentiary in the last few years, a development that
> officials attribute at least in part to methamphetamine. In
> North Carolina, dental workers in the Department of
> Correction learned about meth mouth during a training
> session this month; starting in July, new prisoners there
> will be screened for signs of dental problems connected to
> the drug.
> In Minnesota's state corrections system, meanwhile,
> dentists' workloads are so full of gruesome methamphetamine-
> related matters that they are strained to get to other, less
> urgent cases: the routine cleanings and fillings of years
> "All of our time is getting eaten up," said Dr. Stephen
> Boesch, a dentist who works at a Minnesota prison and who
> said he had begun to see the problem in a juvenile
> corrections center as well. "We're seeing this week in and
> week out."
> Some dentists said they would never ask their patients about
> drug use; that is not their place, they said. Others said
> they would ask, but could not force the issue. "That's the
> thing: you can't beat a confession from someone," said Dr.
> Eric Curtis, who shares a practice with his father in
> Safford, Ariz., and began seeing meth mouth four years ago.
> "I suspect that many dentists are out there seeing this but
> don't know what they're seeing," said Dr. Curtis, a
> spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry. "And most of
> them aren't going to know for sure." The new business, he
> said, is actually a gloomy one for dentists in rural places
> like Safford.
> "What dentists really make the money on is the happy stuff:
> the low-impact work with beautiful results," he
> said. "Nobody is happy when you pull a bunch of teeth and
> put in dentures."
> ................................. instead of a "War on
> Drugs", how about we legalize 'em and have a "War Paid for
> by Drugs"? The worst drugs, alcohol and tobacco, are
> already legal and kill 116,000 and 406,000 each according to
> http://bbsnews.net/drug-deaths.html . Illegal drugs kill
> 20,000 and we're spending $20 Billion/yr to stop that,
> according to http://www.drugsense.org/wodclock.htm .
> That's $1 Million per death. Where's the logic?
> And we're arresting 1.5 Million people/yr for drug
> violations. It costs about $20,000/yr to lock a person up,
> yet we only spend $5,000/yr to educate a student. And these
> kids see how much a drug dealer can earn, IF they survive,
> and they'd rather make $40,000/mo as a dealer than
> $40,000/yr as a teacher. The War on Drugs makes as much
> sense as Prohibition.