Marijuana Use and Oral Health

Medicinal marijuana is often recommended for pain management, insomnia and a variety of other ailments as a natural alternative to painkillers and pharmaceuticals whose list of side effects can often be long and dramatic.  The active compounds found in cannabis, THC, CBD, terpenes, etc., can produce highly effective results for those fighting cancer and chronic pain.  However, there are concerns about the negative aspects of smoking cannabis versus ingesting it in the form of an edible.

You might be familiar with the impact smoking cigarettes can have on your teeth and gums, but what do you know about what’s going on in your mouth when you smoke cannabis?

Ever had that cotton-mouth feeling when smoking pot?  A dry mouth means a lack of saliva, but a lack of saliva can cause a whole range of problems in our mouth.  Saliva is very important to your mouth as it washes away plaque and food particles while also neutralizing the acids that lead to erosion of tooth enamel.  If you mouth isn’t producing enough saliva, the enamel on the surface of your teeth becomes damaged and teeth can appear worn and shorter. They can feel increasingly sensitive as they lack protective coating they once had.

Smoking pot can also cause the soft-tissue in your mouth to become inflamed and eventually lead to it breaking down.  This means painful damage can be done to lips, cheeks, tongue and the roof of the mouth with severe damage to the gums possibly leading to teeth falling out.  Cannabis use is also associated with severe gingivitis.

Cannabis stomatitis is a condition in which smoking causes damage to the lining of the mouth.  This can lead to oral cancers which can take the form of nasty sores that don’t go away.  They can be extremely painful to treat and can even be life-threatening in serious cases.

Would you be surprised if I also told you that smoking anything is going to have a negative impact on the appearance of your teeth?  Heavy smokers’ teeth can become more worn and yellow than non-smokers and even the appearance of the gums can be affected.  And don’t get me started on bad breath!

So what do you do to keep those pearly whites in shape (teeth are very expensive to replace)?

  • Brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once a day.
  • Book regular dentist appointments for professional cleaning and checkups.
  • Adapt your diet to exchange less sugary foods and drinks for more water, dairy and fresh vegetables which can help reduce the exposure to plaque acids and also boost your immune system to help fight gum disease.
  • Don’t forget to drink lots of water.

Braeside Dental Centre


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