Marijuana and dental health – Is there a relation?
Marijuana, colloquially known as weed, is the dried leaves of the plants from the genus Cannabis. Cannabis has several medicinal properties and is used as a potent pain-killer, anti-anxiety compound, and it also seems to have antiemetic properties. Unfortunately, this once medically acclaimed drug is now being abused for recreational purposes as it is a mild sedative and a mood enhancer. Marijuana is quite popular in today’s culture, and many states have even legalized it. However, is it really safe or better than smoking tobacco? Is there any relationship between oral health and smoking marijuana?
Several surveys and studies have found that the use of marijuana, especially smoking marijuana, is conclusively associated with poor oral health. Smoking marijuana has also been associated with xerostomia, that is, dry mouth. Lack of proper salivary production has adverse effects on the sanctity of the mouth. Saliva has several immunologic functions and fights against oral infections. The absence of proper salivary flow contributes to plaque accumulation and makes the oral cavity more susceptible to opportunistic infections like oral candidiasis (oral thrush) and other forms of gingival infections. Marijuana consumption has also been linked to chronic bad breath.
In addition, the active compound of marijuana, THC, is an appetite stimulant. Marijuana smokers tend to snack upon cariogenic food products such as sugary candies and snacks. Combine this with poor oral hygiene, and it forms a perfect concoction for the prevalence of dental cavities. Smoking marijuana also has been associated with gum enlargement and gum pigmentation, and periodontal diseases. Some studies have also found a link between smoking marijuana and oral cancer. This association is stronger in younger age groups (<50 years).
Therefore, we strongly advise our patients to keep their distance from this recreational drug. If you have any more questions, wish to schedule an appointment, or want to know about our services, please reach out to us at Wilmington Periodontics and Implants. Our team of excellent and friendly dental professionals is here to assist you and your family with incredible oral health.