As your dentist in Lakewood, Colorado, our team at Advanced Family Dental strives to provide our patients with the best oral health possible. In addition to providing exceptional oral care and teaching the best practices for brushing and flossing, our staff at Advanced Family Dental also strive to teach patients about the hidden risks many daily habits can have on their oral health. This can include everything from diet to more serious habits like smoking.
Even though most of us understand the dangers associated with smoking, the idea that smoking anything can harm our oral health is often overlooked. This means that even smoking marijuana can cause our oral health to deteriorate, regardless if you’re using marijuana medically or recreationally.
How Does Marijuana Impact Your Oral Health?
As medical and retail marijuana dispensaries become more common all across the U.S., more people are having the same chance to experience the purported health benefits of pot as we have had in Colorado. As marijuana becomes more widely accepted as a form of treatment, it’s not unexpected that many patients will forget that, like any medication, there are potentially negative side effects to smoking pot.
One such side effect is “cottonmouth”, a slang term that’s often used to describe a dry-mouth sensation that occurs after smoking marijuana. This sensation is actually caused from the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on the nervous system. However, this isn’t just some minor inconvenience that can be quickly treated by slurping down a bottle of soda or even a glass of water. Cottonmouth can really harm your oral health.
A steady stream of saliva production is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Our saliva actually works to wash harmful oral bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating away from the surface of our teeth and from accumulating along the gum line. When any form of dry mouth prevents that cleansing action from occurring, you can expect bad breath, oral sores, tooth decay, and tooth loss as a result.
Additionally, your mouth is fairly delicate. It’s not really designed to endure high temperatures. So when you inhale any flaming herb, the tissue inside of your mouth is going to become agitated. Not only does the high temperature alone cause problems to oral tissue, but the thousands of toxins and chemicals found in smoke also affect your mouth’s biome.
When healthy, your mouth’s oral biome should be a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria. Smoking, whether cigarettes or a joint, causes a significant buildup of bacteria that continues to linger in the mouth for hours or days after you last smoked. This in turn increases your risk of gum inflammation, tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Additionally, both cannabis and tobacco products typically include cancer-causing hydrocarbons when smoked as an herb. Studies have also suggested that when the mouth experiences high temperatures, as it does during the act of smoking, it can result in chemical changes occurring inside oral cells that distort them. This distortion increases a smoker’s risk for oral cancers.
However, with the exception of cottonmouth, the majority of studies have made sure to highlight that when correlations were found between oral diseases and marijuana use, it was only when pot was smoked that it produced these dangerous result. Little evidence exists that suggests that marijuana is linked to a higher risk for oral cancers or gum disease when ingested in ways that don’t involve smoking, such as edibles and oils.
Protecting Your Oral Health
As your dentist in Lakewood, Colorado, our team is here to help protect your oral health from the effects of dry mouth and other oral conditions that could impact tooth and gum health. If you smoke, it’s vital that you continue to practice quality oral hygiene, such as brushing twice a day and flossing daily, along with scheduling regular visits to see your dentist in Lakewood, Colorado.
While smoking marijuana may have its risks, you can help to offset some of those to your long-term oral health by making sure your oral hygiene and oral care remain a top priority.