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Meth Mouth Prompts Funding

Meth mouth is a mouth filled with blackened, rotted, crumbling, stained teeth, commonly seen in methamphetamine addicts.

And as abusers of the drug fill county jails and state prisons, officials are starting to realize that the cost of treating them is skyrocketing.

A group of lawmakers propused a new legislation to help ease the strain on prison dental budgets by providing federal grants and to launch a program designed to warn the population about the dangers of meth by focusing on the extreme dental issues the drug can cause.

"It's been one of the worst headaches and nightmares over the past 10 years," said Dr. Pat Murphy, a dentist at the state prison in Monroe, Washingtion, who has treated over 2,000 people suffering from meth mouth. "Our resources are tremendously strapped."

In Minnesota, treating meth mouth has virtually doubled the cost of inmate dental care, said Dr. Robert Brandjord, the former president of the ADA.

"Meth is a chemical cocktail that literally rots your teeth away," said Rep. Rick Larsen, co-chairman of the House Meth Caucus. "It takes a terrible toll on the body."

Meth abuse will cause a number of dental problems that will result in addicts in their late teens and early 20s needing dentures.

Meth dries up saliva, which is necissary in fighting off bacteria and tooth decay. People who are high might not eat for three or four days and after a while might develop a sugar craving that causes them to consume dozens of soft drinks in a day. Meth can also cause uncontrolled muscle actions that results in bruxism, or grinding or clenching of the teeth.

Teeth of meth abusers can be reduced to blackened stubs in little under a year.

At a news conference, congressional aides showed four pictures of the mouths of meth addicts.

"When you look at these pictures, you have to wonder why anyone would do meth," said John Sullivan.

Senator Max Baucus, said that even though many states decided to restrict sales of formerly OTC drugs that contain the necisary chemicals used in meth production, demand for methamphetamine hasn't wained, and more and more was coming in from across the borders.

Baucus said that 50% of the inmates in Montana's prisons have some involvement to meth.

More than 12 million Americans have tried meth, which can be swallowed, injected, snorted or smoked. The majority of users range between 18 and 34 years of age.







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