Marijuana is a drug which is fast becoming a part of life for millions of Americans. While marijuana smokers lag far behind the estimated 36 million Americans who smoke tobacco, their numbers are rapidly rising. Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states and recreational marijuana use is increasing in every segment of the population. A recent Gallup poll found that one in eight adults acknowledged puffing on pot. Seniors are increasingly turning to medical marijuana as an effective alternative drug to get relief from the problems that typically affect their generation like insomnia or sleeplessness, arthritis, chronic pain, and depression.
Cannabis is becoming more routinely accepted as a successful treatment for a variety of medical conditions so it is important for all of us to know about the problems it can cause in the mouth due to frequent pot smoking. The dental danger common to both tobacco smoking and pot smoking comes from their shared link to inflammation. Undoubtedly some of the hundreds of compounds in cannabis stimulate the inflammatory process which is the culprit underlying to so many health issues. The most important one is periodontal disease deemed by the American Dental Association as the most common chronic disease. It is the major cause of tooth loss among adults.
Marijuana is now considered a significant potential risk factor in the severity of periodontal disease along with factors like genetics, aging, diabetes, cigarette smoking and poor oral hygiene. A survey from the National Health and Nutrition Examination cited the relationship between cannabis and periodontal disease. Data showed they exhibited deeper pockets, more receding gums, and greater odds of having severe periodontitis.
Periodontal disease is not the only oral manifestation of cannabis smoking. The most commonly found problems are severe xerostomia or dry mouth and throat dryness. This in turn leads to a dramatic increase in cavities in the teeth. Patients who do use marijuana also have increased tissue redness in the mouth, dry cough, sore throat, and mouth ulcers too. Patients using cannabis for emotional relief or pharmacologic benefits need to be aware of the potential dental issues it can cause and get regular checkups with the dentist and maintain good dental health to avoid dental infections and gum problems.