Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
Marijuana and dental health
In the last decade, the use of cannabis or marijuana has ceased to be taboo. The multiple studies and investigations to discover the health benefits of marijuana use have played an important role in its acceptance by the general public. This was further promoted by the legalization of the use, purchase, and sale of marijuana in many United States regions for medical and recreational purposes.
Today, marijuana is used to treat many conditions and diseases, ranging from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder to epilepsy, glaucoma, and even cancer. Perhaps the most common medical use of marijuana is as a natural alternative to pain relievers as it has been credited with the ability to control chronic pain and the side effects of chemotherapy.
However, without entering into the debate on the risks of its consumption, benefits, and harms, the use of marijuana or cannabis impacts different body systems, such as the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, or immune systems. Heavy marijuana use has been reported to cause breathing problems, bronchial discomfort, abdominal problems, and rapid heartbeat. Despite this, scientific studies are not conclusive when specifying the long-term harmful effects on them. What is well known is the cognitive impairment of this drug, which sometimes reduces the ability to concentrate, influences the mood, and reduces cognitive abilities in general.
Likewise, the consumption of marijuana significantly increases the risk of suffering from diseases in the oral cavity, which may vary depending on the quantity and frequency of consumption and other individual characteristics of the consumer.
The most affected part of your oral health will be the gums. Also, it causes dry mouth.
That, apart from the fact that using cannabis produces cravings that lead to an excessive consumption of foods and drinks with high sugar content, which promotes the appearance of cavities.
Effects of marijuana on oral health
- Xerostomia: known as dry mouth, is the most common effect in marijuana users. This condition is caused by a disorder of the salivary glands that inhibit the production of saliva. This alters the balance of the flora and bacteria in our mouth; when dryness occurs, your teeth are exposed to the effect of acids that cause cavities and bad breath.
- Periodontal disease: This pathology affects the supporting tissues of the tooth, that is, the gums, as well as the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone, gradually loosening your teeth. In some instances, if the disease is not properly treated, teeth can be lost in the long term. According to research, marijuana use causes inflammation of the gums, which can lead to periodontitis.
- Tooth decay: After using cannabis, anxiety is generated by the desire to eat sweets. As a consequence of consuming this type of food, your dental health is affected. Even your general health as well, since the sugar in excessive amounts leads to various conditions. However, the first part of the body to be affected, at least visibly, is the teeth. In the oral cavity, sugar is transformed into potent acids with the ability to destroy tooth enamel.
Other possible effects related to the use of marijuana:
- Oral candidiasis: The immunosuppressive action of marijuana facilitates the proliferation of higher density of Candida albicans.
- Risk of oral cancer: The smoke and high intraoral temperature from smoking marijuana can cause abnormal changes in oral tissues and cell disruption that lead to many potentially malignant oral diseases. The most affected region is the anterior floor of the mouth and tongue.
Recommendations to take care of our oral health
- Go to a dental visit regularly. The usual thing is to visit the dentist once a year. This is true for those with optimal oral health. However, those who consume this substance should visit their dentist at least two or three times a year.
- If your gums bleed, see your dentist immediately. Although several factors influence periodontal disease, smoking tobacco or marijuana worsens the effects.
- Maintain good oral hygiene habits. Follow the advice of your dentist, and do it regularly and systematically. Brushing and flossing every day should be a regular part of your life, whether you use marijuana or not.
- Avoid consuming sugars, either in food or beverages.
Oral health depends on several factors. The use of marijuana, whether therapeutic or recreational, can be one more. In any case, we recommend that you visit your dentist regularly to evaluate your mouth’s health and give you specific advice to take care of it according to your case and your habits. At Channel Islands Family Dental, we are ready to help you.
If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental. We look forward to your visit and will make a timely diagnosis.