Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant, and we’re learning more ways to use the plant for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is also legalized for recreational use in some states, and while we’re still trying to understand how the compound affects our health, the substance also has implications for our oral health. Today, we take a closer look at how cannabis can impact your oral health.
Marijuana and Your Mouth
The research on how cannabis use affects our oral health is limited, but previous studies have found that smoking marijuana has been associated with decreased oral health. However, the reasons behind this finding are complex. For example, frequent cannabis users also tend to have higher uses of alcohol, other drug use, and tend to have poorer dental hygiene practices, including more infrequent visits to the dentist.
Other findings have suggested that because THC, a compound in marijuana, is an appetite stimulant, that frequent marijuana use may be associated with an increased likelihood to consume junk food or sweet foods, which can affect the health of our teeth. Studies have also shown that frequent cannabis users have a higher number of areas of dental decay, especially on easier to reach surfaces, than non-users.
Another finding associated with smoking cigarettes or cannabis is that it can lead to xerostomia, a condition more commonly known as dry mouth. Saliva helps to keep the appropriate levels of bacteria in our mouth, so if our mouths get dry and we have inhibited saliva production, bacteria that contributes to tooth decay can thrive.
Caring For Your Teeth As A Cannabis User
If you smoke cigarettes, cannabis or hookah, you need to be a little more proactive about your oral health. For starters, be sure to be diligent about your daily dental habits. Make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and also add flossing to the regular rotation. On a more long-term scale, make sure you are getting semi-annual dental checkups. Get in the habit of scheduling your next dental visit before you leave the dental office following a visit, and always set up an appointment if something doesn’t feel right in your mouth.
Other tips to consider include:
- Drink water regularly throughout the day.
- Chew sugarless gum after smoking to help increase saliva production.
- Reach for healthy, nutritious snacks.
- Consider adding mouthwash to your dental hygiene routine.
- Limit other activities, like excessive alcohol consumption, that can negatively affect your oral health.
For more tips on how to care for your mouth if you’re a cannabis user, or if you just want to set up your next appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.
Leave a Reply