Canada has become the world’s first major world economy to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Adults over the age of 19 years old, can now buy, use, possess and even grow recreational marijuana.  But why is this relevant to our oral health? According to various studies… a lot.

Although smoking marijuana has been linked to poor oral health, the herb itself may not be completely to blame. There are also personal factors that heavily weigh in when it comes to the toll smoking marijuana can have on your teeth.

Since we already know that smoking tobacco CAN cause Xerostomia (dry mouth), it should be no surprise that smoking marijuana can do the same.  It can also lead to a higher risk of tooth decay since one of the important functions of saliva is to keep harmful germs at bay.

Smoking marijuana, or tobacco, can also cause inflammation of the gums, which opens the door to gum disease. A severe case of gum disease can lead to many health issues, including your teeth falling out.

Another negative result that our oral health takes from marijuana is related to the “high” you get from smoking the herb. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is the chemical responsible for most of the herb’s psychological effects. It stimulates a user’s appetite known, colloquially, as “the munchies.” Users often consume junk food during this period and those types of snacks are high in sugar. Although the mouth has both good and bad bacteria, sugar feeds on the bad, creating more acid in your mouth, which can destroy the enamel, our teeth’s first line of defense.

There is still much more research to be done that zeros in on the direct effects smoking marijuana can have on oral health, but until then, a conscientious marijuana smoker can do a number of things to lessen the hazardous effects that we do know.

  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep healthy foods available to counter “the munchies,” instead of reaching for junk food.
  • Since smoking causes dry mouth, stay away from mouthwashes containing alcohol. Alcohol impacts the amount of saliva you produce.
  • Maintain a healthy dental regime. The American Dental Association recommends:
    • Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste.
    • Clean between teeth daily. Flossing.
    • Healthy diet limiting sugar intake.
    • See a dentist regularly.

 

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