What Does Legalized Marijuana Mean For The Dental Industry?

marijuana plants

As of July of 2021, 19 states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes while 37 states have legalized it for medical purposes. It’s fair to say that many people are exercising their state-legalized right quite happily. With cannabis and CBD-infused products becoming easily accessible, a growing number of people are willing to explore and benefit from the “healing powers” of marijuana.

What Does Legalized Marijuana Mean Within the Field Of Dentistry?  

Use of cannabis or marijuana or weed is not exactly a new practice, but it has become a topic of interest among dentists. But with its growing popularity, it is now more important than ever to understand its diverse adverse effects on oral and general health.

Multiple research studies have established that people who consume too much marijuana usually have poorer oral health compared to the non-users. Users are also vulnerable to oral infections due to the immune-suppressive effects of legalized marijuana.

Administering a dental treatment on a patient who has used legalized marijuana prior to an appointment can cause them to experience paranoia, dysphoria, and acute anxiety. It could also cause drug interactions with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or sedative agents. As a dentist, you should be aware of these potentially adverse effects and incorporate questions about your patients’ patterns of use while taking their medical history.

Oral Health Implications of Cannabis

People who smoke pot (aka cannabis/marijuana) are likely to have more issues with gum disease and inflammation, but there are other factors that are commonly seen among these individuals, such as:

·        Higher consumption of alcohol

·        Higher rate of smoking tobacco

·        Poor oral hygiene

·        Fewer visits to the dentist for preventative care

The risk of following dental conditions also increases with regular marijuana use:

Tooth decay: When people are intoxicated or “high”, they tend to reach for unhealthy food options to satiate their hunger. Indulging in processed foods and sugary drinks during their marijuana-fueled munchies episodes often lead to cavities and tooth decay.

Gum disease: The high temperatures inhaled while smoking pot can aggravate the gums and result in bleeding, swelling, and sensitivity. The smoke also has carcinogens in it which can damage the gums and lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Xerostomia: A dry mouth is another thing marijuana users often feel. This condition (xerostomia) is a result of under-functioning saliva glands. The THC in the drug restricts saliva production which leads to bad breath, tooth decay, plaque build-up, and more.

Discolored teeth: With continuous use of legalized marijuana, teeth get stained and discolored over time. Regular trips to the dentist for whitening solutions and good oral hygiene can prevent this issue.  

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