Marijuana is the second highest most widely used psychotropic (mood altering) drug in the US and likely the Bahamas, second only to alcohol. Used for many years, by the 1800s marijuana was generally accepted in mainstream medicine and was used to treat opioid withdrawal, stimulate appetite, and relieve nausea and vomiting.
Marijuana might have a medical cure for your epilepsy and other ailments, however it could create serious dental health issues for regular users. Recent studies suggests that Marijuana smoking has been associated with poor quality of oral health.
In this issue, we will discuss the relationship between marijuana smoking and your dental health.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names, is a psychtropic drug from the cannabis plant. Native to Central or South Asia, the cannabis plant has been used as a drug for both recreational and hallucinogenic purposes and in various traditional medicines for centuries.
In several studies examining the impact of marijuana smoking on the oral cavity scientists found that regular cannabis smokers suffered significant impact on the health of teeth and gums.
Firstly, they noticed an increased risk of periodontal disease. The American Dental Association also stated that marijuana smoking is associated with periodontal complications, Xerostomia and Leukoplakia in the mouth as well as increased risk of mouth and neck cancers.
Xerostomia is a chronic dry mouth condition. Dry mouth is a condition that leads to constant bad breath. Leukoplakia is a condition that causes white patches or spots to appear inside the mouth. Leukoplakia is commonly seen in early stages of mouth cancer.
The human mouth is a complex system. It’s made up of many interconnected parts. Saliva is one of the most vital components in this system. It’s responsible for many functions, like breaking down food and maintaining a moist environment. Most importantly to cannabis users, saliva removes and breaks down bacteria and other substances from the teeth and gums, preventing cavities. When you smoke cannabis, the saliva production decreases. Most cannabis smokers are acutely aware of this common occurrence.
This happens because the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the compounds (cannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant. The THC affects the submandibular glands that produce saliva. THC is also responsible for the intoxication and “high” effects.
Excessive dry mouth is the biggest cannabis-related issue for oral health because the saliva contains antibacterial products (in addition to water, antibodies, electrolytes and enzymes). A mouth without saliva is an ideal environment for bacteria to build up, which can cause cavities and fungal infections. If left for too long, severe infections in the gums persists resulting in periodontal disease. Additionally, gingivitis is common because of the direct effects of the inhaled smoke from the marijuana. This results in early tooth and bone loss. These risks are magnified by the constant junk food snacking of marijuana users.
What makes matters worse is people under the influence of marijuana tend to drink more sugary drinks, eatmore junk food and neglect their teeth.
To manage dry mouth one should stay hydrated, use fluoride toothpaste to protect against decay and use a antimicrobial mouth rinse to kill excess bacteria in the mouth. You should definitely brush and floss more often.
Cannabis smokers are encouraged to speak honestly with their dentists about their use. These conversations can avoid adverse interactions with the local anesthesia and pain medications used during the appointment.
For now, practicing these tips, finding alternatives to smoking and keeping your dentist in the loop are the best ways to protect ones teeth for those who utilize the positive effects of cannabis. For further information visit our website at www.csddentistry.com/thespecialist
Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected].