In the United States alone, nearly two million people use marijuana every single day. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it is popular among all demographics. It is harmful if smoked, however. As with tobacco, cannabis smoke is high in cancer-causing chemicals. As such, pot smokers are at risk of mouth problems. What are the effects of Marijuana on oral health?
- Oral Health Effects of Marijuana
- Marijuana and Oral Health
- Other Cannabis Alternatives
Effects of Marijuana On Oral Health
Doctors consider aging the prime cause of gum disease, but this is not the case for people who smoke cannabis regularly. Heavy pot smokers have a strong predisposition toward periodontitis. According to WebMD, a study conducted by The Journal of the American Medical Association found a strong association between cannabis use and gum disease, and many were not that old.
The study concluded that, of the 32-year-old participants, those who smoked cannabis had a 60 percent higher risk of evidencing periodontitis than those who had never touched a joint. After controlling for tobacco use and other risk factors, one in three of them also showed signs of gum loss.
Researchers found that approximately one fifth of study participants developed adult periodontitis in their mid-20s. That figure jumped to just below a third by the age of 32. There is no doubt that smoking damages your gums, whether you smoke cannabis or tobacco.
What exactly are the oral effects of smoking marijuana?
Next to extreme munchies, xerostomia, or dry mouth, is possibly the most widely known side effect of using cannabis. It happens to even non-smokers. Marijuana affects the nervous system, most notably its responsibility for saliva production. Without enough saliva to clean the gums and teeth of bacteria and food, it may eventually lead to mouth sores, halitosis, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.
Gum disease is a real risk for both tobacco and marijuana smokers. Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria thrive inside the mouth, eventually leading to inflammation of the bone and tissues surrounding the teeth. If left without treatment, tooth loss becomes inevitable. Furthermore, the dry mouth associated with cannabis worsens developing periodontitis.
3. Oral Cancer
The smoke from both marijuana and tobacco contains chemicals known for causing cancer. These include nitrosamines, benzo pyrene, and even aromatic hydrocarbons. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, cannabis smoke is carcinogenic, causing pre-malignant lesions and dysplastic changes in the mouth.
Marijuana smokers have a higher risk of cancer developing in the mouth than those who take it in other forms. As cannabis smoke is hot when inhaled, it irritates oral tissues and triggers these cells to undergo dangerous changes, potentially causing the growth of precancerous sores and lesions. Because tobacco is another risk factor for oral cancer, those who mix it with their weed are at even greater risk.
4. Stained Teeth
There is no denying that cannabis stains your teeth. In heavy smokers, it is noticeable by the age of 35, even younger. Although the nature of marijuana discoloration differs from tobacco stains, it still happens and can destroy your pearly whites. Fortunately, the stains themselves are softer and easier to remove than more stubborn cigarette marks. Your dentist can advise, and yes, he or she will know.
Marijuana and Oral Health
It is possible to reduce oral complications from cannabis smoking with frequent visits to your dentist. A good daily routine of oral hygiene will also help to prevent problems, or at least minimize their severity. Brush twice a day with quality toothpaste, and if you do not floss, then start flossing today.
During routine checkups with your dentist, make sure that he or she checks for decay, looks for signs of gum disease, screens for oral cancer, and gives you proactive suggestions on dealing with dry mouth. Be honest about how much cannabis you smoke. Book an appointment with your dental practitioner the moment you notice any issues. You can prevent serious complications by treating problems early.
Other Cannabis Alternatives
Marijuana comes in many different forms. You do not have to smoke it and risk staining your teeth and developing gum disease. In fact, ingesting cannabis is more medicinally beneficial than inhaling it will ever be. There are hundreds of weed products to try, and many of them are more potent and effective than your ordinary joint. Instead of rolling the next one, consider other cannabis alternatives.
Edibles, such as chocolate infusions and cannabis muffins, are easy to make. Concentrates, such as oil and tinctures, are powerful and extremely good for your health. In fact, they can prevent many health problems, including any inflammation associated with mouth and gum diseases. If you are already suffering the oral effects of smoking marijuana, then a quality tincture or oil will treat it effectively.