Although it’s still not legal in Tennessee, marijuana laws have changed in many other states in the U.S. Whether it’s decriminalized, approved for medical usage, or outright legalized, attitudes and criminal penalties surrounding marijuana have changed.
The health effects of using marijuana remain a source of controversy, but as dentists, we know that smoking marijuana doesn’t do your mouth any favors. When you inhale any type of smoke, whether it’s tobacco smoke or marijuana smoke, you put yourself at risk for many oral health problems.
Frequently inhaling hot smoke can cause the gums to become inflamed, sensitive, and even begin to bleed. Over time, this inflammation can set the stage for gum disease. Vaping isn’t a healthier alternative, either, as it’s also associated with gum disease due to reduced blood flow to the gums.
The American Dental Association reports that marijuana smoke may have an immunosuppressive effect on the mouth. Over time, this can allow bacteria to create large colonies on and around teeth. When bacteria become overgrown in the mouth, it can result in tooth decay and even tooth loss.
In addition, many of the beverages and snacks associated with marijuana usage, including confectionaries loaded with THC (edibles), are loaded with sugar. Frequent consumption of sugar-laden foods and drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay.
A healthy mouth is a mouth that always produces sufficient saliva to keep gums, teeth, and tongue moist and free from bacteria. When a person’s mouth becomes dry, it’s easier for bacteria to take hold. Dry mouth is also associated with high levels of plaque, bad breath, and tooth decay.
Another negative effect of marijuana smoke is stained teeth. Just as cigarette smoke can stain teeth, marijuana smoke can also gradually change their color and luster over time. This type of staining can occur even to frequent smokers who brush their teeth as recommended.
Marijuana smoke can produce a pungent and lingering odor, much like cigarette smoke. People who smoke cigarettes frequently have bad breath, and marijuana smokers often deal with this problem, too. Bad breath can be compounded and worsened by many of the effects listed above, including dry mouth.
Tips for Reducing the Oral Health Risks of Marijuana Usage
The best way to reduce your oral health risks of smoking marijuana is to stop using it. Inhaling smoke is always bad for your teeth, mouth, gums, and tongue.
Other ways to mitigate your risk include:
- Brushing twice per day and flossing once per day
- Staying hydrated with water, not sugary sodas or energy drinks
- Avoiding edibles made with sugar, candy, and other sweets
- Seeing a dentist twice per year to get a professional cleaning and examination
We Can Help You Stay on Top of Your Oral Health
At Willow Chase Dentistry, we know that maintaining perfect oral health on your own simply isn’t possible. Regardless of lifestyle choices and dietary habits, everyone needs to see a dentist at least twice per year for routine cleanings and examinations.
Preventive care is the best way to reduce the risk of cavities, oral cancer, and more. Request a dental appointment today to find out how we can set you up for a long-term plan for achieving the best possible oral health.