Marijuana Use & Oral Health Effects
Marijuana use & oral health effects, Known by different names like weed, grass, pot, marijuana, and hash, cannabis is the most common form of cannabinoids that can modify patterns of pain, mood, sleep, memory, and appetite.
The dried leaves and flower buds of the Cannabis sativa plant are rolled in a joint for smoking. Apart from that, marijuana is available as topical creams, oils, and ointments. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the compound of marijuana that is responsible for the psychoactive effects and is the one that gives the users the feeling of high.
On the other hand, cannabidiol or CBD is another compound that is nonpsychoactive and can be used to treat medical conditions like epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Hence, CBD extracts do not cause addiction as it does not give the user a feeling of high.
The use of marijuana has been made legal for medicinal and recreational purposes in many parts of the world. Inspite of its pain-relieving and mood-uplifting properties, it has a number of detrimental side-effects on oral and overall health.
Oral Health Effects of Marijuana Use-
Oral side-effects are more prevalent in those who smoke marijuana. It has been observed that those who smoke pot, smoke tobacco also at some point in their lives. Hence, the oral health effects could be attributed to the use of both substances.
Here is a list of the most common oral health effects-
1. Gum Problems
While smoking marijuana, the hot smoke can cause gum irritation which can lead to inflammation, bleeding and sensitivity of the gums. Hence, one should ensure to take good care of their gums to avoid gingivitis and periodontal problems.
2. Dryness of Mouth
Our saliva has a very important role to play in our overall well-being and optimum oral health. It flushes out the bacteria, helps in the removal of food debris, and keeps the oral tissues hydrated. When the salivary glands are not functioning properly, one may experience a condition called xerostomia, which means dryness of the mouth. Smoking marijuana can cause oral dryness because the THC present within it sends signals to reduce the production of saliva.
Less saliva can cause bad breath, plaque build-up, and increased chances of dental cavities.
3. Dental Decay
On reaching a state of high, individual experiences increased thirst and hunger and try to grab anything that can satiate him/her for a considerably longer duration. Unfortunately, one does not tend to think about which food is healthy and which is not. Hence, people tend to choose processed foods and sugary drinks. Moreover, the low production of saliva adds up to the situation and makes one extremely susceptible to dental decay.
4. Discolourations on Teeth
This is one of the most expected side effects of smoking marijuana. Even with the best of oral hygiene maintenance you cannot stop your teeth from getting stained or grow darker in colour. Routine professional cleaning can be of some help. You may have to think of teeth whitening once you are determined to discontinue marijuana use.
5. Flourishing Colonies of Bacteria
Our immune system helps to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria throughout our body. Due to marijuana consumption, one may experience a spurt in bacterial colonies inside the mouth as the immune system is suppressed due to the effects of marijuana. This can be detrimental as it can cause more dental cavities and gum diseases.
Tips To Reduce The Ill-Effects of Marijuana
Here are a few tips that you can try to minimize the harmful effects of smoking marijuana-
- Drink plenty of water- Staying hydrated is important to reduce the dry mouth condition. Though your salivary glands will not produce saliva in a normal quantity, drinking water will ensure that your mouth is kept moist.
- Stick to your oral hygiene routine diligently- Brushing and flossing are important for you more than anyone if you smoke pot. This is the only way to ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy. It has been observed that rinsing your mouth with a solution of a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a glass of warm water can clean your teeth from the sticky layer left after pot smoke.
- Avoid processed foods and beverages- Sweet and sugary foods invite more bacterial activity. Hence, you should abstain from consuming them.
- Visit your dentist regularly- This is one of the most important tips that you should remember. Routine dental check-ups will help you identify and address any dental or gum issues right in the beginning. You can even get professional dental cleaning once in four or five months.
The Final Note
You must have already understood the ill-effects of marijuana on your oral health. Until now, the research shows that smoking marijuana can be harmful to your oral health. Current studies do not indicate any negative effects of edible marijuana. Hence, switching to edible type could turn out to be a better substitute for smoking marijuana. However, cessation of the habit is the only ultimate solution. Yet, you can minimize the adverse effects by working with your dentist and by following a strict oral hygiene regimen.
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