meth mouth (1998)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Aug 10 03:41:10 UTC 2005

Jack Shafer has a piece in Slate on "The Meth-Mouth Myth". He writes:

Although users have been snorting, smoking, injecting, and swallowing
methamphetamine in great quantities for more than 40 years, the phrase
_meth mouth_ is brand new. It makes its first Nexis appearance in
Investor's Business Daily as an unsourced one-liner in a Jan. 31, 2003,
digest of news: "Methamphetamine's drying effect on saliva glands leads to
tooth decay and gum disease, dentists say, a trend known as 'meth mouth.'"

Factiva has the original news story that Investor's Business Daily was

Reuters Health E-Line, 30 Jan 2003
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - As the number of regular users of the illegal
drug methamphetamine has increased, so has a peculiar set of dental
problems linked to the drug-aptly named "meth mouth," according to US
The exact rate of meth mouth is unknown, but dentists who practice in
areas where people have regular access to methamphetamine-also known as
"crystal meth" and "crank," among other terms-are beginning to see a
pattern. [etc.]

Earlier examples from the Usenet archive:

alt.showbiz.gossip, "JESSE; MTV VJ", 8 Oct 1998
>What's the deal with Jesse the relatively new MTV VJ?  What kind of
>speech impediment does he have?  I can barely understand him.
Crystal meth mouth?
-----, "Ampetamine Use Up Among Women", 10 Jun 2002
I can spot a heavy meth-mouth in an instant.
Even years after they're 'clean'.

--Ben Zimmer

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