The medicinal use of cannabis is legal in many states. Many people use cannabis because of its supposed health benefits, including relieving anxiety, chronic pain, muscle stiffness and nausea.
Cannabis is usually smoked but it's also available in other forms including edibles, tinctures, and topically applied products. Unfortunately, using cannabis may harm your oral health.
Here's why cannabis use can be bad for your oral health and overall wellness.
Why is Smoking Marijuana Bad for my Oral Health?
Studies have shown that frequent cannabis use including marijuana, hashish, and hash oil may increase the risk of periodontal disease. In addition, marijuana use may be related to a higher risk of dry mouth, oral infections, leukoplakia, and oral cancer.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory response to a bacterial infection below the gum line. If not treated, periodontal disease can lead to swelling of gum tissue, irritation, receding gums, and tooth loss. Periodontal disease is usually treatable and reversible with proper care from a dentist or periodontist.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth or xerostomia may occur when the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. A reduced salivary flow can cause oral health problems including:
- Difficulty chewing
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty swallowing
- Lack of taste
Dry mouth can also increase the chance of tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, and oral infection.
Which Oral Infections are Related to Cannabis Use?
It's thought that cannabis use may suppress the body's immune functions. As a result, cannabis users may be more prone to oral infections including:
- Canker sores
- Oral herpes
What is Leukoplakia?
Leukoplakia looks like a white or gray patch inside the mouth. It often appears:
- On the tongue
- On the inside of a cheek
- On the floor of the mouth
Leukoplakia usually occurs in response to irritated mucous membranes in the mouth. The condition is usually harmless, although not all leukoplakia is harmless, it can sometimes transition into a cancerous lesion. Most leukoplakic lesions will usually disappear within a few weeks after the source of irritation is removed.
Smoking marijuana or tobacco products can cause leukoplakia. If the condition reoccurs, it's best to stop smoking.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer often appears as a sore or growth inside the mouth that won't heal. Oral cancer is easier to treat when it's detected early. See a dentist or doctor if you notice any changes inside the mouth like lumps, bumps, numbness, bleeding, or soreness.
Oral cancer includes cancers of the:
- Hard and soft palate
- Floor of the mouth
Can Smoking Marijuana Stain Your Teeth Like Cigarettes?
Yes. Like tobacco, regularly smoking marijuana can stain your teeth. This can occur even when a smoker visits the dentist regularly and practices good oral hygiene.
It's best to avoid using cannabis before visiting a health care provider. Cannabis may increase the risk of bleeding during a procedure. Make sure to tell your dentist about any drugs or supplements you are taking, including cannabis products. In addition to increased risk of bleeding, they may interfere with medications the dentist may use during your care.