With the recent legalization of Cannabis in Canada we now have approximately 15% of the population over the age of 15 using these products. While it is portrayed as relaxing or a way to unwind or manage pain, it should also be noted that there are some serious health implications (oral health included!) that have been proven to be associated with use of Cannabis.
How does Cannabis affect your Oral Health?
Cannabis can cause persistent chronic dry mouth (lack of saliva) in short term or long term use. This can put you at a greater risk for cavities and can be very uncomfortable! Dry mouth – or xerostomia – is a serious dental condition that needs to be managed and should be discussed with your dental professional. Ways to manage xerostomia can be found in this previous blog post.
Smoking cannabis or marijuana can lead to oral cancer. Just like smoking cigarettes, the heat and chemicals found in cannabis and marijuana can cause changes to the tissues of the mouth. These changes often cannot be seen. At every hygiene visit you are given an oral cancer screening by a professional who is trained to see changes in oral tissue. If you are smoking any substance, you should become proficient in assessing your own mouth to look for changes. We can show you how to do just that!
Cannabis use can trigger sugar cravings. It has been proven that marijuana can cause cravings – particularly to sweets. This increases your chances of getting a cavity.
Staining. Just like smoking tobacco, marijuana can stain your teeth. The stain can be very tenacious depending on factors such as how much and how frequently you are smoking and if you have a dry mouth. Often the stain must be removed professionally.
Cannabis can cause increased bleeding and changes in how your body metabolizes medications including anesthetics. It is extremely important that you let your dentist know if you are using cannabis products prior to any dental procedures. Your procedure may need to be rescheduled due to the possibility of increased bleeding. The amount of local anesthetic you need could also change based on your usage of cannabis.
Oral health is part of your overall health. As oral healthcare providers, we take into consideration what is going on in the body as a whole when we look at treating your oral health conditions. It is imperative that we are made aware of any medications you are taking including cannabis, so that we may provide you with the advice and care that will most benefit you. Please reach out with any questions you may have!