Whether you’re trying out cannabis for the first time or have used it for a while, we want you to be aware of what cannabis can do to your oral health. Here are six things to know:
- It increases your risk of oral cancer
Similar to cigarettes, cannabis smokers run the risk of developing oral cancer from both the drug itself and carcinogens in the smoke that can damage tissues in the mouth.
- It makes it easier to get infections
When the THC (its technical name is delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis enters the bloodstream, it affects almost every bodily system and can weaken your immune system, which can open you up to gum and tooth infections.
- It can lead to gum disease
Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is more than just annoying, dry mouth is a serious side-effect of smoking cannabis that may lead to aggressive gum disease and cavities.
- It can stain your teeth
We all like to have nice, white teeth, but cannabis smoke stains your enamel and can actually cause demineralization, making staining that much harder to get rid of.
- The munchies lead to eating non-oral health friendly food
We’ve all heard about people getting very hungry after smoking cannabis, and the traditional go-to snacks usually aren’t celery sticks. Be sure to rinse with a few swigs of water after snacking to prevent cavities from developing. It’ll also help with the dry mouth!
- Edibles introduce more sugar to your diet (and mouth)
Understanding dosages is critical when it comes to cannabis-infused edibles, and you also need to watch out for the sugar content in the candies, chocolate and baked goods.
Whether you’re new to cannabis or have used it for a long time, be sure to talk about it honestly with your dentist. They can monitor your mouth and give you tips on how to prevent cavities and other problems from developing into something more painful and costly to fix.
Adapted from a Your Oral Health Magazine article originally by Maggie Blood.
- Cho, C.M., Hirsch, R., Johnstone, S. “General and Oral Health Implications of Cannabis Use.” Australian Dental Journal, Vol. 50 (2), June 2005, pp. 70–74.
- Maloney, W.J. “Significance of Cannabis Use to Dental Practices.” The New York State Dental Journal, Vol. 77 (3), April 2011, pp. 36–39.
- Rawal, S. Y., Tipton, D.A., Tatakis, D. “Periodontal and Oral Manifestations of Marijuana Use.” Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association, Vol. 92 (2), Fall-Winter 2012, pp. 26–31; quiz pp. 31–32.
- CDA Position Statement on Cannabis: https://www.cda-adc.ca/en/about/position_statements/
- ADA Position Statement on Cannabis: https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/cannabis.