I couldn’t let April 20th (4/20 in the US) go by without mentioning oral health in relation to marijuana. Lots of cannabis-related events take place on this day because in the 70s, a group of friends decided to meet at 4:20 after school to smoke weed and used 420 as a code so their parents wouldn’t know what they were doing.
I know that marijuana is widely used and patients often don’t think it’s important to mention that they use it, but marijuana can have many effects on your oral health.
The use of cannabis, particularly marijuana smoking, has been associated with poor oral health and dry mouth but studies have been complicated by the number of factors with that happen with frequent users, including: using it with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; poor oral hygiene practices; and infrequent visits to dentists.
Further, the main psychotropic agent, THC, is an appetite stimulant, which often leads to consumption of sugary snack foods. Regular cannabis users are known to have significantly higher numbers of cavities than non-users particularly on normally easy-to-reach smooth surfaces.
White spots, puffy gums, yeast, and periodontal disease are also more common among cannabis users than non-users but it is unclear whether associated irritants, such as orally inhaled smoke, rather than cannabis itself, may be contributing causes.
Marijuana can also affect how your body responds to anesthesia. Regular users generally need larger doses to achieve the same degree of numbness. Remember this not only for that root canal therapy you need, but also any major surgeries you may have that require you to be put under general anesthesia.
If you do indulge in any 4/20 related activities of the day (or any day):
- Drink lots of water
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Avoid frequent soda drinking and snacking when you have the munchies
- Check your mouth periodically for white or red spots that don’t go away in 10 days
- Remain consistent with regular dental visits and oral care