Use of Cannabis and Your Oral Health

We have talked about smoking tobacco and its consequences on oral health. Now with the legalization of cannabis in Canada, let’s discuss how its regular use affects your dental health.

Regular cannabis users usually have poorer oral health, which is evidenced by higher rates of tooth decay, missing teeth, inflamed gums, and cavities as compared to non-users.

Effects of cannabis on oral health:

  • Xerostomia
    Have you ever experienced the cotton-mouthed feeling when using cannabis? This means your mouth is dry due to lack of saliva. This oral condition of dry mouth is known as xerostomia, which is due to the reduced salivary flow. While under the influence of cannabis, the nervous system reacts by reducing the production of saliva. This lack of saliva can create a whole range of problems. Saliva plays an important role for your healthy oral condition. It helps with breaking down food for easy swallowing, washes away food particles after meals, helps with rebuilding protecting tissues, and provides disease fighting substances to keep your mouth healthy.With the lack of saliva in the mouth, it eventually leads to cavities, as the enamel and roots surfaces of your teeth become damaged, and lead to extreme sensitivity. Lack of saliva also causes bad breath.
  • Gingivitis & Periodontal Disease
    Cannabis use can lead to inflammation of tissue around your teeth and degeneration of bone. This shrinkage of gums and lost of support will cause loosening of teeth. Apart from teeth and gums, regular cannabis use also damages other soft tissues in your mouth like lips, tongues, cheeks and the roof of your mouth.
  • Stained Teeth
    Heavy tobacco and cannabis users will have stained and yellow teeth. This stain becomes difficult to remove.
  • Mouth Cancers
    Abusing cannabis leads to mouth damage, cellular changes, and can lead to mouth cancer.

As dentists, we recommend to avoid consuming cannabis as much as possible. If you are a regular cannabis smoker:

  • Avoid using alcohol based mouthwashes as they dry your mouth further.
  • If you are scheduled for a dental procedure, please inform the dentist of your use.
  • There is an increased failure rate of dental implants due to cannabis’ effect on new bone development.
  • Discuss in-office teeth whitening procedures to improve the appearance and try to regain some of the whiteness of your teeth.

If you have any questions about the effects of cannabis and your oral health, please feel free to contact us.