Meth Mouth: A WAFF 48 News Special Report

The chemicals in meth take a toll on users.
The chemicals in meth take a toll on users.

Tiffanie Bassett has used meth for 16 years. Years of abusing the drug has taken a toll on her body, but mainly her teeth.

"My face would sag and I think after my face would be sagging, I started losing teeth and when I would be using meth, they got so brittle that with my tongue, I could even flip them off," she said.

The pain in her mouth was so severe, she says she would dig in her gums with an ice pick. Bassett's drug use got her in trouble with the law and she was arrested. When she finally got out of jail, she had to have thirteen more teeth pulled.

Bassett, not pleased with her appearance, decided to go to the dentist, have all her teeth removed and get dentures.

Dr. Ann Mare Lee, a dentist in Huntsville, says she's beginning to see more and more people with meth mouth. The chemicals in meth break down the enamel on the teeth, causing them to become week.

Dr. Lee says the acids not only affect the teeth, but it also impacts the glands that produce saliva.

"Because it's a stimulant, it will reduce your saliva flow and in doing so, it will cause dry mouth," said Dr. Lee. "When you don't have that natural saliva in your mouth to buffer the acid that's in there that's breaking down the teeth structure."

In severe cases, most patients replace their teeth with dentures or implants, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Bassett has been clean for five years and now teaches courses at the Recovery Center for DeKalb County. She says meth was not worth her losing her friends and family and believes God gave her a second chance.

"I guess God wanted me a new set of teeth, he changed that for me and I look at it today like he just tells me don't bite off more than I can chew," she said.

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