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How Smoking Cannabis Can Impact Your Oral Health

December 11, 2019 07:44 pm ET
How Smoking Cannabis Can Impact Your Oral Health

Yellow teeth, bad breath, inflammation, plaque build-up, and gum disease are a few of the side-effects one can expect from smoking cigarettes but can we expect the same from smoking cannabis? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t what we would hope for. Smoking cannabis is not good for your teeth and for your gums. Frequent smoking of cannabis can have a significant negative impact on your teeth and gums, just as smoking cigarettes might. 

A 2016 study showed that frequent cannabis smokers did not differ from non-smokers on any other physical health measures but they did show an increase in periodontal diseases between the ages of 26 and 38. However, this is a risk you already take with many things. Granted the risk may differ, but the principle remains. Let’s dive deeper into what you need to know regarding oral hygiene and cannabis smoking.

Periodontal Disease Explained

Periodontal disease is commonly known as gum disease and is defined as a serious gum infection that damages your gums and potentially your jaw. An individual with periodontal disease can expect bad breath, bright red gums, loose teeth, receding gums, tender gums, tooth loss or toothache. Keep in mind that there may be an increase in gum disease amongst smokers but there is also uncertainty regarding whether you will be one of those who get it or a lucky one who won’t. You accept this risk when you smoke, regardless of what you smoke. 

Dry Mouth Can Negatively Affect Oral Health

Smoking cannabis can also mean an increased risk of conditions such as chronic dry mouth (xerostomia) and white patches or spots on the inside of the mouth (leukoplakia).  When individuals smoke cannabis, saliva production slows down. Saliva is vital for clearing and breaking down bacteria, preventing cavities as well as maintaining a moist environment in your mouth. Dry mouth is becoming one of the biggest cannabis-related oral health issues. 

However, knowing the exact effects of smoking cannabis on your teeth and mouth is challenging because many combine cannabis with smoking tobacco, alcohol consumption, and even illicit drug use. Other factors include practicing poor oral hygiene and infrequent visits to dentists. 

Take Preventative Measures To Protect Your Mouth and Teeth

It remains unclear whether the oral effects of cannabis smoking are due to the cannabis itself or from smoking in general. Dentists highly recommend regular dental visits and practicing proper oral care. You would also do well to consider using preventative measures such as topical fluorides. If you are struggling with dry mouth, avoid any substances containing alcohol. Many cannabis consumers also turn to more sugary drinks and eat as their appetite is stimulated. This increased intake of sugary items also leads to deterioration of your teeth. Considering changing your snack foods and drinks from sugary junk to naturally sweet alternatives is worth considering, in order to minimize the damage done to your teeth as a result of cannabis consumption. 

If the risks of consuming cannabis through smoking are not worth it for you, try edibles, oils, and ointments. Thanks to the growing support for the legalization of cannabis, there is an increase in methods and availability for cannabis consumption. Remember to make your appointments with your dentists, find an oral hygiene routine that encompasses all the aspects of your mouth (teeth, gums, tongue and the roof of the mouth) and stay away from sugary treats and drinks. Don’t let the negative impacts of smoking keep you away from the benefits of cannabis.   

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