Use of Cannabis and Your Oral Health
According to the World Health Organization, cannabis is the most popular recreational drug worldwide. Even though cannabis has been legalized in Canada, some patients might feel uncomfortable mentioning the use of recreational drugs to their dentists. Being transparent when filling out medical forms is extremely important because it helps dentists find the best solutions and treatments for your oral health.
Cannabis and its elements can be consumed in different ways. Smoking cannabis is one of the common ways of cannabis consumption. Studies have shown that smoking cannabis on a regular basis may lead to higher rates of tooth decay, missing teeth, inflamed gums, and cavities, as compared to non-users. Here are some effects that regular cannabis smokers might experience.
Effects of smoking cannabis on oral health:
Have you ever experienced the cotton-mouthed feeling when smoking cannabis? This means your mouth is dry due to a lack of saliva. This oral condition of dry mouth is known as xerostomia, which is due to reduced salivary flow. While under the influence of cannabis, the nervous system reacts by reducing the production of saliva. This lack of saliva can create a whole range of problems since saliva plays an important role in your healthy oral condition. It helps break down food for easy intake, rinses your teeth and gums to remove food particles after meals, helps with rebuilding tissues, and provides disease-fighting substances to keep your mouth healthy. The lack of saliva in the mouth can eventually lead to cavities, as the enamel on the surface of your teeth becomes damaged and teeth can appear worn, shorter, and extremely sensitive. Lack of saliva also causes bad breath.
- Periodontal Disease
Smoking cannabis can lead to periodontitis, which is the inflammation of the tissue around your teeth, causing shrinkage of gums and loosening of teeth. Apart from teeth and gums, regular cannabis use also damages other soft tissues in your mouth like lips, tongues, cheeks and the roof of your mouth.
- Stained Teeth
It is not a surprise that heavy tobacco smokers have stained and yellow teeth. Heavy cannabis smokers also have similar teeth in appearance, with worn-out gums, resulting in a not-so 'pearly-white' smile.
- Mouth Cancers
Abusing cannabis also creates a condition called cannabis stomatitis, which is the damaging of the lining of the mouth. This leads to sores that are painful to treat and often don't go away, which eventually take the form of oral cancers.
As dentists, we recommend avoiding consuming cannabis as much as possible. If you are a regular cannabis smoker:
- Avoid using alcohol-based mouthwashes as they dry your mouth.
- If you are scheduled for a dental procedure, avoid cannabis at least one week prior to any procedure as epinephrine in anesthetics used for numbing, combined with high THC levels and anxiety, can be life-threatening.
- Keep in mind that there is an increased failure rate of dental implants due to cannabis' effect on new bone development.
- Try in-office teeth whitening procedures to improve the appearance of your smile and regain some of the whiteness of your teeth.
- Avoid cannabis use before a dental hygiene appointment as it may increase the risk of bleeding and slow down the healing process.
If you have any questions about the effects of cannabis and your oral health or experience any of the effects mentioned above, please feel free to contact us.