Marijuana and your mouth: not so pearly whites

You might be familiar with the impact smoking cigarettes can have on your teeth and gums, but what do you know about what’s going on in your mouth when you smoke cannabis?

You might be familiar with the impact smoking cigarettes can have on your teeth and gums, but what do you know about what’s going on in your mouth when you smoke cannabis? In conjunction with this years Dental Health Week, we thought we would take the opportunity to remind you of the effect cannabis use can have on your oral health.

Weed, cotton-mouth and sensitivity

Ever had that cotton-mouth feeling when smoking pot? People often experience it when high, but it can also last well into the next day, long after the other symptoms of being high have worn off. A dry mouth means a lack of saliva, but a lack of saliva can cause a whole range of problems in your mouth.

Saliva plays a really important role in keeping teeth and gums healthy. It washes away plaque and food particles and it also helps to neutralise the acids that lead to erosion of tooth enamel. If the mouth isn’t producing enough saliva, the enamel on the surface of your teeth becomes damaged and teeth can appear worn and shorter, and they may feel increasingly sensitive as they lack the protective coating they once had.

Marijuana and gum disease

Smoking pot can cause the soft-tissue in your mouth to become inflamed and eventually lead to it breaking down. This means painful damage can be done to lips, cheeks, tongue and the roof of the mouth, with severe damage to the gums possibly leading to teeth falling out. Cannabis use is also associated with severe gingivitis, which is something you’ll need to Google image search to believe… (warning: it s not for the faint hearted!). You’ll also put yourself at risk for periodontal disease (some studies show long-term weed smokers had rates over 55%!) and this can lead to failed dental implants. If you’re planning on getting any dental work done stay off the weed for at least a week before hand as the local anesthetic can have different reactions in pot users that affect gum repair.

Mouth cancers

Cannabis stomatitis is a condition where smoking causes damage to the lining of the mouth. This can lead to oral cancers, which can take the form of nasty sores which don’t go away. They can be extremely painful to treat, and can even be life-threatening in serious cases.

Not so pearly-whites

It’s probably not surprising to hear smoking anything is going to have a negative impact on the appearance of your teeth. Heavy weed and tobacco smokers alike have teeth can become more worn and yellow than non-smokers, and even the appearance of the gums can be affected. The lack of saliva and increase in decay can also cause bad breath. Pretty gross, huh?

Some good reasons to quit smoking cannabis:

  • You’ll be more likely to retain your teeth in the long-term (teeth are very expensive to replace!)
  • If you already have gum disease, you will see a definite improvement in gum health if you quit.
  • You can slow the painful wear on enamel which causes sensitivity.
  • Studies have shown quitting smoking can actually cause the yellow tinge to fade over time.

What can you do when you quit cannabis to get healthier teeth and gums?

  • Develop a daily oral care routine is key. Remember to brush at least twice daily and floss at least once a day.
  • Book regular dentist appointments for professional cleaning and checkups.
  • Adapt your diet to exchange less sugary foods and drinks for more water, dairy and fresh vegetables, which can help reduce the exposure to plaque acids, and also boost your immune system to help fight gum disease.

This years Dental Health Week is focused on Women and Oral Health. As females still represent a large proportion of daily cannabis users in Australia, this week is also a great opportunity for female marijuana users to learn more about the other effects smoking weed use can have on your health.

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