Cannabis on Oral Health
Welll, here in Canada, consumers now have access to legalized marijuana - and not just for medical purposes. You are completely free to use cannabis recreationally...however, please be aware that you are not free from the consequences of such use.
LOL, sorry to begin a blog post with such dire warnings, but we wouldn't be responsible dental professionals if we didn't at least try to inform people of potential implications of using cannabis. So, here's the lowdown.
One study found that cannabis users had more cavities, more infections in the mouth and poorer gum health than non-users. Like with cigarette smoking, marijuana users may experience dry mouth - which can contribute to more cavities (one explanation may be because there is less saliva to wash away food particles and debris). Marijuana also stimulates cravings for snacking - and constant snacking without the appropriate brushing/flossing afterward can allow food to sit on teeth more frequently. Here's an article that discusses marijuana munchies and an article detailing the effects of frequent eating on caries. Smoking behaviours also expose your oral tissues to oxidative stress, encouraging the onset of periodontal diseases (aka gum diseases) at the very least and in worst case scenarios, can even lead to heart disease.
Similar to what we see in cigarette smoking, smoking weed can increase the risk for oral cancers. Pay attention to changes in your oral mucosa, sores that won't go away and stay regular with dental check-up appointments. Also, don't be afraid to ask for routine oral cancer screenings if you become a regular user. For more information about oral cancer, please review one of our older posts, which you can read here.
On the flip side of the coin, cannabis may be beneficial to pain management cases in migraine patients and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) patients, so there could potentially be some good quality research coming in the not-so-distant future. Here's a link to U of T Dentistry Magazine Summer/Fall 2017 - it's got a pretty succinct summary article of marijuana and its impact on dental health.
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