Methamphetamine is leaving its mark–especially in the rural regions of the Midwest and the South–on families, crime rates, economies, legislatures – and teeth. Methamphetamine takes a unique and horrific toll inside its users’ mouths, reports the New York Times. 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 fruit.
Meanwhile, the Deseret News in Utah reports that meth mouth is taking a financial toll on prison and jail budgets as increasing numbers of inmates are arriving with rotted teeth. Contract dentists are having to put in more time to keep up with the demand for dental visits. Some jails have a two-month waiting list. In Salt Lake County, dental costs for jail inmates increased 30 percent between 2003 and 2004.