Why dentists don’t want you to smoke pot
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The Ontario Dental Association is warning Canadians, now that pot is legal, of its effects on oral health.
The biggest issue? Smoking it. Just like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana has negative consequences for your teeth, gums and mouth, said Dr. David Stevenson, president of the Ontario Dental Association.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re smoking tea leaves, tobacco or marijuana. Smoke dries out your mouth,” he said.
Dry mouth contributes to an increased risk of cavities, gum disease and eventually, more serious issues like stomatitis – an inflammation of the mouth and lips, or an overgrowth of the gums, said Dr. José Lança, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Dentistry and Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
This is bad news for the 86 per cent of marijuana users who smoke it at least sometimes, according to a recent exclusive Ipsos poll for Global News.
Although people who smoke marijuana don’t generally smoke it as often as someone who smokes cigarettes, they do tend to hold the smoke in their mouths and lungs a bit longer, Lança said. Marijuana also burns at a higher temperature than tobacco, meaning there is an increased risk of heat damage to the inside of your mouth, he said.
Marijuana smoke also contains many of the same carcinogens and even more tar than tobacco smoke, Lança said, though much more research needs to be done on the effects of marijuana smoke.
The easiest way to avoid these problems if you’re using marijuana is just not to smoke it, he said.
Although as a dentist, Stevenson isn’t crazy about the tooth-rotting sugar content of the typical marijuana edible, like a brownie or gummy bear, eating marijuana would prevent the smoking-related issues — and most edibles are consumed in tiny quantities, like a single chocolate square.
Vaping may also help, as the marijuana itself isn’t combusted, though both Lança and Stevenson caution that vaping products with added chemicals, similar to tobacco vaping liquids, could have other health consequences.
Smoking marijuana carries many of the same risks for your oral health as smoking tobacco, dentists say.
Does My Dentist Know I Smoke Weed?
Though marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, it’s completely legal in Colorado for recreational purposes. At Life Dentistry, we often get questions from users about how marijuana affects oral health.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions, so that you can understand how marijuana use affects your teeth. Looking for a judgment-free dental office near you? Schedule an appointment with us!
What effect does smoking weed have on my oral health?
As you might expect, marijuana use does have a number of effects on your oral health. Smoking weed can result in oral health issues such as:
- Dry mouth (xerostomia) – “Cottonmouth” is one of the most common side-effects of marijuana use. Dry mouth is a serious oral health concern. If your saliva buildup is inhibited, the saliva in your mouth cannot “wash away” bacteria and food debris. In turn, this leads to a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Tooth discoloration – Smoking any substance can lead to tooth discoloration, and weed is no exception. However, serious tooth discoloration from smoking weed is quite rare except in very heavy smokers.
- Higher risk of oral cancer – While marijuana has fewer carcinogens than tobacco, smoking any substance can increase your risk of oral cancer.
These are the primary effects that smoking weed has on your oral health. As time goes on and more research is conducted, it’s likely that other effects will also be discovered.
How can I maintain my oral health while smoking weed?
Well, the most important thing you can do is brush and floss regularly. If you have a great oral hygiene regimen, your weed use will probably have a minimal impact on your oral health.
And, of course, you should schedule regular 6-month teeth cleanings and oral exams at Life Dentistry.
In addition, after using marijuana, you should consider using chewing gum to stimulate saliva production. This helps you reduce the severity of dry mouth, and prevent the associated oral health issues.
You may also want to consider using a vaping device or consuming edibles instead of smoking. Current research indicates that vaping is safer than smoking marijuana, and has fewer negative effects on both your oral health and your lungs.
Can my dentist tell if I smoke weed?
Here’s another very common question. The answer is no – unless you walk into our office smelling like you’ve just gotten back from a tour with the Grateful Dead!
The oral health effects of marijuana are quite similar to those of tobacco and are usually very mild. There is no way for a dentist to figure out if you smoke marijuana based only on your mouth.
Come to Life Dentistry – no matter what “recreational activities” you indulge in!
Whether you’ve been enjoying Colorado’s regulations on marijuana legalization, or are simply looking for a new dentist in Lafayette, Life Dentistry is the place for you!
We specialize in helping you maintain your oral health through restorative, cosmetic, emergency and family dentistry. Schedule your next check-up today by contacting us at (970) 289-5433, or visit our office at 110 Old Laramie Trail E #100, Lafayette, CO 80026.
Non-judgemental, patient-focused dental practice in Lafayette, CO specializing in comprehensive dental care including treatment of those with dental anxiety, custom cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, and restorative dentistry. We serve all of Boulder County and Greater Denver.