Top Oral Health Risks Of Marijuana Use
There are multiple major oral health problems that can be caused by marijuana use, including these five:
- Tooth decay. Indirectly, marijuana can increase your risk of developing cavities. First, most users experience heavy sugar cravings soon after smoking. Second, marijuana is often consumed in sweets like candies, chocolates, and baked goods. Thoroughly rinsing out your mouth and cleaning your teeth following "the munchies" can help reduce the risk.
- Tooth stains. Not only cigarette smoke, but marijuana smoke too, can permanently stain teeth. Marijuana triggers a demineralization process that impacts tooth enamel and makes it very, very difficult to remove stains. Professional teeth whitening may still be effective, however.
- Dry mouth. Lack of saliva can make it easier for bacteria to fester in your oral cavity. And dry mouth also often leads to cavities, gum disease, and halitosis (chronic bad breath.)
- Mouth infections. The soft tissue inside your mouth, and especially the gums, are exposed to greater risk of serious infection when you smoke marijuana. The reason is that marijuana weakens the body's immune system, creating greater risk of infection everywhere in the body - including in the mouth.
- Oral cancer. Carcinogens in marijuana smoke, as well as the drug itself, pose an increased risk when it comes to developing oral cancer. This is essentially the same kind of risk that smoking tobacco products also poses.
Just like use of tobacco products or heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages should be avoided due to the oral health risks, the same can be said of recreational marijuana use.
That said, there are a few other ways you can help control the risk to your teeth and gums even if you have to keep using marijuana, perhaps for medical reasons:
- Brush, floss, and use an antiseptic mouth rinse three times a day - after every meal.
- Rinse your mouth out with water immediately after smoking marijuana and/or consuming large amounts of high-sugar foods.
- See your periodontist at least once or twice a year for a check up. Let him know about your marijuana habits so he can better monitor the health of your gums and teeth.
- If you get a mouth infection, notice your gums begin to bleed easily and frequently, or suspect you have a cavity, do not delay to see a dental professional.
- Schedule an annual oral cancer screening with your periodontist to stay informed.