With the recent push for legalizing medical marijuana, it is a great time to pause and evaluate the oral health effects of the use of cannabis, which acts as a mild sedative and mood enhancer for recreational users as well an analgesic and antiemetic in clinical applications. Although in 2012, as many states started legalizing the substance for recreational consumption and medical usage, which has increased the social and legal acceptance of cannabis, the public health concerns have remained.
Many patients do not realize that cannabis contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco, and chronic smoking of marijuana is associated with similar respiratory pathologies as tobacco smoking. The neurological and behavioral effects of cannabis asssociated with chronic systemic health effects include addiction, disruption of brain development, as well as psychotic disorders especially in adolescents.
The use of cannabis, particularly marijuana smoking, has been associated with poor quality of oral health, including an increase in xerostomia, which is a dry mouth. Further, the main psychotropic agent, THC, is an appetite stimulant, which often leads users to consume cavity producing snack foods. Regular cannabis users are known to have significantly higher numbers of cavities than nonusers, patricularly on normally easy-to-reach smooth surfaces. Other dental health concerns include yeast infections, gingival enlargement, and chronic inflammation of the oral mucosa, called leukoplakia, which has been associated with an increased risk for mouth cancers, especially is younger users.
Although many patients feel that cannabis use is completely without any adverse side effects, it has been shown to have many dental and overall health risks. If you have any questions or are in need of an appointment, call our office at 918-455-0123!