Methamphetamine (MA) use is associated with extensive dental caries. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and severity of periodontal disease in a convenience sample of MA users.
In this cross-sectional survey, MA users were recruited with a combination of snowball sampling and street outreach techniques. Three dentists, trained and calibrated to the oral assessments used in the National Health and Nutrition Survey, measured and recorded the participants’ attachment loss, probing depth, and gingival recession. Concomitant interviews elicited psychological, substance use, medication, and dietary habits associated with MA use.
Periodontal assessments were completed on 546 adults. More than 69% were cigarette smokers, and more than 55% were medium to high MA users. Classifying prevalence by means of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Periodontology definitions, cigarette smokers and medium to high MA users had a high prevalence of periodontal disease. The defining features of the participants were being 30 years and older (average, 42.2 years) and having severe and moderate periodontitis.
This is the first study to the authors’ knowledge to systematically examine periodontal disease in a large population of current MA users. MA users in a Los Angeles urban setting had a high prevalence and severity of destructive periodontal disease. The frequency of MA use had a minimal impact on the severity of periodontal disease.
An MA user can be at high risk of developing periodontal disease. Knowing that behavioral factors, such as smoking and consuming sugary beverages, are more important than MA use will assist the clinician in managing the treatment of MA users.