Marijuana Use and Your Oral Health

By : Abby Ruiz

On October 17th, 2018, the Government of Canada had introduced the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Canada. As the use of marijuana becomes more common, we will continue to see it’s possible side effects. As your Mississauga family dentist and as a part of our commitment to our patients, we feel that it is important to discuss and educate you on effects of cannabis on your oral health.

Now you may be thinking, How can marijuana affect my oral health ? According to several studies, chronic marijuana use can lead to higher incidences of cavities, oral cancer, periodontal disease, and gingivitis. Marijuana users tend to have more plaque deposits, cavities, and a higher chance of developing oral cancer, oral candidiasis, and other oral infections.

Here are some of the oral health effects that we think you should all be aware of :

  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) 
    • Since saliva acts as the mouth’s natural cleansing system, it is important for one to maintain their salivary flow. Saliva contains antibacterial agents that wash away acids, food debris, and bacteria to protect your teeth from getting cavities or erosion.
    • Cannabis is known to reduce saliva production, which can lead to dry mouth. This makes one more susceptible to getting cavities, tooth sensitivity, and bad breath.
  • Periodontal Disease and Gingivitis
    • Periodontal disease is an infection of the supporting system for your teeth and is actually one of the most common chronic diseases in adults.
    • The inflammation caused by the smoke inhalation can damage the bone and connective tissue attachments of teeth over time, which could then lead to tooth loss.
  • Cavities
    • People often get the “munchies” after Cannabis use. This is because it contains THC which stimulates your appetite which lead frequent snacking. Snacking combined with more plaque and less saliva is the perfect environment for one to develop a lot of cavities in a short period of time. This may also cause existing fillings, crowns and other restorative work to fail.​​
  • Cannabis Stomatitis
    • As a result smoking, high temperatures are introduced into the mouth. Overtime, this repeated exposure results in damage to the lining of the mouth also known as Cannibis Stomatitis.
    • This often results in chronic inflammation of the soft tissues including the tongue, cheeks, palate and lips – one or a combination of these make you more susceptible to developing oral cancer.
  • Other Effects During Dental Treatment
    • Smoke inhalation can cause increased bleeding and a higher risk of developing infections, such as dry socket, after surgery.
    • Cannabis can alter the effects of any prescribed medication and anaesthesia needed for your procedure.
    • Most local anaesthetics contain epinephrine. Smoking marijuana can cause a reaction to the epinephrine, resulting in an increased blood pressure and/or heart rate, which could lead to further serious complications.

What You Can Do

  • Make sure to brush, floss, and rinse daily with an alcohol-free mouth wash
  • Make sure sugary foods and drinks to a minimum
  • Make sure that have frequent dental exams and oral cancer screenings
  • Maintaining health of the gums is also very important so make sure to have regular dental hygiene appointments to reduce and prevent inflammation and gum disease
  • To reduce the risk of developing cavities, make sure you receive a topical fluoride varnish to act as a protective layer for your teeth
  • Asking your hygienist about how you can manage dry mouth
  • Discuss how you can improve your homecare regimen with your dental professional

As your Mississauga Dentist, your oral health is our top priority. Our goal is to ensure that we are able to provide you with the information needed in order to educate you on achieving your optimal oral health. If you have any further questions, you can contact our team at Credit River Dental Centre at 905-278-4297.