The use of cannabis as a medical treatment has been increasing steadily for the last couple years. You or someone you know might be using it now to treat a chronic illness. However, using marijuana can cause a number of issues for your oral health.
One of the main impacts it can have on your mouth is that it can lead to xerostomia, or dry mouth. This means you don’t have the right amount of saliva – or the minerals and proteins saliva contains – to negate harmful, corrosive acids and flush out food particles.
Many people who use cannabis experience an increase in hunger caused by the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis. Eating more food means you have more acid in your mouth that affects your teeth, causing the potential for gum disease and other oral health issues, such as cavities.
If you regularly smoke cannabis, you can increase your chances of having a white or grey appearance along the lining of your mouth, tongue or inner cheeks. Called leukoedema, it is a harmless condition but is unsightly.
Increased Chance of Oral Cancer
While many studies conducted on the use of cannabis show no indication of cancer risk, others claim that marijuana use causes an increased risk or mouth or neck cancer.
Potential for Periodontal Disease
You could develop gum disease, particularly the alarming periodontitis, if you use cannabis. This is because smoke causes inflammation. Periodontitis is an infection that invades the tissue that surrounds your teeth, causing it to pull back and expose your teeth to greater risk.
Risk of Infections
If you use cannabis regularly, you could see your immune system take a hit – smoking marijuana has natural immunosuppressive effects. If your immune system is not up to speed to handle infections or other health issues, such as cancer, you could be increasing your chances of becoming sick or, worse, ending up in the hospital.
As you can see, the use of cannabis is not risk free when it comes to your mouth. Consult your doctor for more information on how your medical cannabis usage may affect your overall health, and feel free to reach out to Dr. Norman to understand more about how it affects your oral health.