With the approval of California’s Proposition 64, it is now legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess and grow marijuana, without a medical license. However, people will not immediately have a place to legally buy nonmedical marijuana. Despite this, many patients across the country already use marijuana semi-regularly. As your dentist (not a police officer, or your employer), what we have to tell you is that this is your choice. Are there dental risks? Yes – there are some. Some studies do show that, while smoking anything is harmful – many of the chemicals that are present in tobacco are not present in cannabis. That being said, we don’t recommend anyone smoke anything.
So, whether you currently use marijuana for medical or nonmedical reasons – do be aware of the potential risks to your oral health. Read on to learn more. If you have any questions for our dentists in Anaheim, feel free to get in touch – we’re not here to judge.
Dry Mouth, Cavities, and Gum Problems: What to Be Aware of if You Use Cannabis
While it’s been shown that cannabis far less likely to cause oral cancer than tobacco, there is still a slight risk. Outside of cancer, however – smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting cannabis can definitely have an impact on your teeth in other ways.
This often begins with dry mouth – also commonly referred to as cottonmouth. When you ingest marijuana, cottonmouth occurs because of the way THC impacts receptors in your jaws glands that produce saliva – which can sometimes lead to dry mouth. Unfortunately, part of saliva’s purpose is to rinse your teeth of debris and bacteria that can potentially cause decay and cavities.
While dry mouth might be bearable, frequently dry mouth can impact your ability to taste, swallow, and speak. On top of this, it can increase the production of plaque (due to the saliva not washing bits of food, sugar, and junk away).
When you are using cannabis, be sure to drink plenty of water (not a sugary drink) – and try to remember to take a sip every few minutes to keep your mouth nice and moist. While you’re at it, consider switching to the healthier alternative to smoking – vaporizing, which uses steam instead of smoke, and always remember to breath through your nose instead of your mouth.
You can also chew sugar-free gum to help stimulate the production of more saliva.
Other factors that can decrease saliva production include high caffeine intake and mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
Have a question about your teeth? Our dentists near Anaheim have your back. Give us a call to learn how we can help.