Recent events in USA came through as a beneficial for marijuana consumers since multiple states have legalized it for medicinal purposes. Not only that, it is speculated that in very close future it will be federally legal for recreational purposes as well. Medical marijuana helps people deal with their unfortunate diseases while recreational consummation provides that famous feeling of relaxation – being high. Because of legislation, quantity of patients that are consuming marijuana has increased drastically and since it is no longer a taboo topic it is easier for patients to admit that they are consumers.
Many scientists have started researching about the effects of marijuana on oral health, yet the results are not unanimous. They diverge forming a palette of facts and opinions, from which the golden ratio needs to be found and extracted. For now, it’s safe to concentrate on facts they have in common.
There are many ways of consuming marijuana and it comes down to personal preference. Blunts and joints, for example, are one of most popular ways of consummation. Basically, they are cigars with partially removed tobacco and filled with cannabis. That mix retains tobacco’s negative side effects on oral health such as: teeth discoloration, gum diseases, and even oral cancer. On the contrary, smoking joints deprives of negative tobacco effects, making stains softer, lighter and easier to remove.
Discoloration, tartar and dental plaque if not taken care of can lead to gum diseases. Gum diseases have many stages, they range from redness and soreness, to swelling, all the way to bone reduction and consequential teeth loss. So, other than cosmetic those can provide major health issues as well.
Most common side effects of marijuana are dry mouth and munchies.
Saliva is very important part of oral ecosystem and it has seven different functions. One of them is constant flow, keeping the mouth clean and removing remaining food particles while lowering risk of decay. Chemicals in marijuana tend to affect salivary glands, reducing their secretion and providing that famous dry mouth symptoms. Lower amount of saliva means lower level of protection, so teeth become more susceptible to decay and gums get in risk of inflammation.
Munchies, or marijuana related food cravings, are an ability of its chemicals to increase appetite. Constant snacking in combination with low saliva levels provide a great source of nutrients for bacteria in dental plaque, allowing them to prosper undisturbedly.
If we add bad oral hygiene on top of that, oral health becomes terribly jeopardized.
If neglected, decayed teeth can lead to bigger issues, like pain or swelling. Once filling is no longer an option for salvation then a root canal treatment takes it place. Bigger the defect is, bigger the effort for restoring it. Sometimes, severely neglected teeth have no other solution than immediate extraction.
Smoking on its own, as an act, produces heat which can lead to local irritation and gum inflammation.
Perhaps it is needless to say, but marijuana from unreliable source can be filled with all sorts of chemicals which can have a negative impact on person’s health. Those chemicals can be even cancerous.
Consummation of cannabis shouldn’t represent an oral health risk. People need to be educated on benefits and drawbacks, how to consume it with the lowest risk on general and oral health. Any medical personnel, as well as dentist, should educate on this, emphasize that proper consummation along with proper oral hygiene, good habits and regular check-ups reduce negative aspect to a minimum.
Having dry mouth symptoms – hydrate. Having munchies – clean teeth after.
Regular check-ups can point out if there is a need for a bit frequent in-office cleaning and tartar removal, or even some work in order to remove any potential treats for oral health. Perhaps fluoridation or even teeth whitening for cosmetic purposes, as long as they are healthy. Other than that, it is very important maintain oral hygiene at home as well, not to rely solely on in-office cleaning.
With education about consuming techniques, pros and cons, proper oral hygiene, there is no reason why cannabis consummation should be a health risk.