Marijuana and Dental Health: 3 Harmful Effects In The Mouth

Last Updated on: 22nd March 2024, 09:06 am

Marijuana and dental health have a very strong connection. Marijuana, also known as hashish, pot, or cannabis, is a mixture of crushed dried leaves and flowers of the herb called cannabis sativa. Marijuana use is naturally and socially accepted in many cultures around the world. Research has shown that the consumption of cannabis sativa, a specific derivative of the root and flowers, can be indicated for medicinal purposes in therapeutic treatments for cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy, among others.

On the other hand, the recreational use of marijuana, which contains psychoactive substances, is due to the relaxing sensation it produces with the objective of escaping from reality and/or managing anxiety situations and not for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. Marijuana can be consumed:

  • In cigarettes (by smoking them)
  • Vaporized 
  • In food
  • In liquid extract
  • In smoke inhalation devices (vaping)

The increase in the consumption of cannabis, together with its legalization in some countries, has put health authorities on alert regarding the side effects it may have not only on general health but also on oral health.

What is the relationship between marijuana and dental health?

Marijuana consumption is associated with poor oral health. Some of the pathologies triggered are:


It is commonly known as dry mouth, it is the most common effect in marijuana users. This condition is caused by a disorder of the salivary glands that inhibits the production of saliva. This alters the balance of flora and bacteria in the mouth, and when dryness occurs, teeth are exposed to the effect of acids that cause cavities and bad breath.


Saliva is one of the most important components of the mouth, as it helps to break down food and keep the environment moist. It also helps to prevent cavities and destroy bacteria that can affect both the teeth and gums.

Periodontal disease

Periodontitis is one of the most common chronic diseases, affecting about 46% of the population in the United States. This pathology affects the supporting tissues of the tooth, i.e. the gums, and the alveolar bone, gradually loosening the teeth. In some cases, if the disease is not adequately treated, the teeth can be lost long-term. Periodontitis in advanced stages has been linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

According to research, marijuana consumption causes inflammation of the gums, which can develop into periodontitis.

Tooth decay

After trying cannabis, a craving for sweets is generated. As a consequence of consuming this type of food, your dental health will be affected. Even general health is at risk since sugar in excessive amounts leads to various conditions. However, the first part of the body affected, at least visibly, is the teeth. In the oral cavity, sugar is transformed into very powerful acids with the ability to destroy tooth enamel.


Other possible effects linked to the use of marijuana:

  • Oral candidiasis: The immunosuppressive effect of marijuana added to poor oral hygiene can favor the colonization of the fungus candida albicans which is responsible for causing oral candidiasis. Candidiasis are creamy-white, slightly inflamed lesions in the mouth or on the tongue.  
  • Oral cancer risk: Smoke and high temperatures inside the mouth from smoking marijuana can cause abnormal changes in oral tissues and cellular alteration, leading to many potentially malignant oral diseases. The areas of the mouth most affected are the anterior floor of the mouth and the tongue.

Leukoplakia is a condition characterized by the appearance of white spots in any area of the mouth. This is one of the characteristics in the early stages of oral cancer. 

Recommendations to take care of dental health

  • Quit smoking: Regardless of whether it is marijuana or tobacco, it is better not to smoke at all. If you already have the habit, you can reduce consumption; over time, and with good oral hygiene habits, you will observe improvement in the appearance of the gums.
  • If your gums bleed, go immediately to the dentist: To avoid bleeding gums, you must have good oral hygiene habits. In addition to brushing, the use of dental floss is recommended to avoid the accumulation of bacterial plaque.
  • Regular dental visits are recommended: It is normal to visit the dentist twice a year. This is valid for those who have optimal oral health. However, those who consume this substance should visit their dentist at least 3 or 4 times a year.
  • Avoid consuming sugars: Whether in food or beverages.
  • Oral health depends upon several factors: Marijuana use, regardless of whether it is therapeutic or recreational, can affect your health. In any case, it is recommended to visit your dentist periodically to evaluate the health of your mouth.

Contact us

If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in  Oxnard, Santa Paula, VenturaNewbury Park, and  Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.


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  4. Matias Mederos, A. F. (01 de Junio de 2018). Odontoestomatologia. Obtenido de Influence of cannabis use on periodontal disease: a Scoping Review: 
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