Marijuana is gaining legal status in many different areas of the country, and to be frank, many people will still use it regardless of its legal status. Unfortunately, if you smoke or consume marijuana on a regular basis, it may be potentially harming your teeth and gums. If you don't know much about this situation and want to protect your oral health, here's what you should know.
One of the leading reasons why marijuana causes dental decay and gum disease is because smoking it creates inflammation in the mouth. While marijuana doesn't contain many of the chemicals found in cigarettes, like tar, smoke is naturally inflammatory. Simply having the smoke in your mouth may be enough to create irritation and inflammation. This is especially true since many people who smoke pot hold the smoke in their mouths before finally releasing it, prolonging the amount of time their gums and teeth are exposed to the substance.
Even if you don't smoke it and instead take it another way, like through edibles, you're still going to have potential dental health problems on your hands. Dry mouth is a condition that's commonly referred to as "cottonmouth" in the marijuana community. This is a common side effect regardless of how you consume the drug.
The problem with cottonmouth is that it diminishes the amount of saliva produced in your mouth. This is because the chemicals in marijuana attach themselves to the same receptors that are responsible for producing saliva. This prevents the receptors from working as intended.
The issue with this is that reduced saliva increases the risk of cavities and tooth loss. Saliva is full of antibacterial components that are a necessity in keeping bad oral bacteria to a minimum. When there isn't enough saliva, dental disease often follows.
What to Do
Giving up marijuana is one of the easiest ways to prevent these problems. However, many people won't want to do that. In that case, here's what you can do.
For starters, visit your dentist more often than you have been. This will let your dentist discover dental problems before they become severe and will give them an opportunity to treat them. You can explain to your dentist that you're experiencing frequent dry mouth without stating a reason for it, and your dentist will take steps to help mitigate its impact.
Furthermore, ask your dentist about moisturizing mouthwash. This type of mouthwash contains xylitol and other components that help the mouth to produce more saliva, limiting the impact of marijuana.
Reach out to a local dentist like Dr. Jon Douglas Lesan, DDS, RpH, PA for more information.