In 2016, a important study from Duke University measured the overall health of 1,000 New Zealanders who’d consumed cannabis for far more than 20 years. What researchers discovered was surprising—especially when it came to the participants’ mouths.
A single cannabis study discovered no impact on blood stress, cholesterol, or physique mass index. But smoking wasn’t great for teeth and gums.
Although cannabis seemed to have no adverse effects on physical overall health indicators like lung function, cholesterol, blood stress, and physique mass index, researchers discovered that common cannabis use did have a substantial influence on the overall health of teeth and gums.
“While study participants who had utilised marijuana to some degree more than the final 20 years showed an improve in periodontal illness from age 26 to 38, they did not differ from non-customers on any of the other physical overall health measures,” they reported.
Elevated Threat of Periodontal Illness
Researchers have been cautious to account for confounding things like tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse, and poor hygiene in their evaluation. Nonetheless they noticed a substantial oral overall health impact from cannabis, particularly an elevated danger of periodontal illness.
Taking this study and many other folks into account, the American Dental Association’s (ADA) official position is that cannabis smoking “is connected with periodontal complications, xerostomia, and leukoplakia as nicely as elevated danger of mouth and neck cancers.” Xerostomia is a chronic dry mouth situation. Leukoplakia is a situation that causes white patches or spots to seem on the inside of the mouth.
As a outcome, the dental neighborhood is ramping up its educational efforts about the influence of cannabis on the mouth and adjusting clinical suggestions for common cannabis customers. Meanwhile, the cannabis business is building new solutions that could lessen the adverse impact on oral overall health.
The Ecosystem Referred to as Your Mouth
The human mouth is a complicated ecosystem. It is created up of quite a few interconnected components, and calls for a range of organic supplies to maintain it in balance. Saliva, in unique, is a single of the most crucial elements. It is accountable for a myriad of functions, like breaking down meals and preserving a moist atmosphere. Most importantly to cannabis customers, saliva clears and breaks down bacteria and other substances from the teeth and gums, stopping cavities—or worse.
This occurs due to the fact THC mimics a single of the body’s organic endocannabinoids, anandamide, which binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the submandibular gland in the mouth to lower saliva production. So when a individual consumes THC-wealthy cannabis, it signals these receptors to lower the mouth’s saliva production.
Dry Mouth Is not Just Annoying
Excessive dry mouth is the largest cannabis-connected problem for oral overall health due to the fact it includes antibacterial compounds (in addition to water, mucus, electrolytes, and enzymes). A mouth with no saliva creates an best atmosphere for bacteria to develop up, which can bring about cavities and fungal infections. If left for also extended, serious infections in the structures about the teeth, also recognized as periodontal illness, can create. This can imply tooth and bone loss, and the danger is compounded by the munchies.
“People’s behaviors when smoking cannabis—drinking far more sugary drinks, consuming junk meals and not taking great care of their teeth,” are almost certainly far more dangerous than the THC itself, mentioned Dr. Jared Helfant DDS, a practicing dentist in Florida and president of Sparx, a California-primarily based cannabis purveyor.
Gums Do not Like Smoke
Furthermore, cannabis use has been linked to gingivitis, inflammation of the oral mucosa, and spots on the gums, although it is unclear no matter if “associated irritants, such as orally inhaled smoke, rather than cannabis itself, could be contributing causes,” according to the American Dental Association (ADA) .
The act of smoking something is negative for our teeth, according to the federal Centers for Illness Manage. Smoking can stain teeth and additional dries out the mouth. Mainly because the science is nonetheless new, and due to the fact tobacco use and cannabis use are normally correlated, it is really hard to know no matter if cannabis or tobacco in unique is worse for the teeth.
How To Light Up With Significantly less Harm
For these who opt for to light up, overall health pros like Dr. Helfant, and Dr. George Anastassov, MD, DDS have a handful of strategies.
To combat dry mouth, Dr. Helfant’s suggestions resemble what you’d normally hear at the dentist: Remain hydrated, use a heavily fluorinated toothpaste to safeguard against decay, attempt a microbial mouth rinse to kill excess bacteria in the mouth, and brush and floss far more normally.
As extended as the customer stays on leading of their oral overall health, Helfant mentioned he remains optimistic about the overall health rewards of cannabis. He has even encouraged CBD solutions to assist his far more anxious dental sufferers unwind through their appointments.
Dr. George Anastassov is a cranial facial surgeon, dentist, and doctor. He also founded AXIM Biotechnologies, a organization recognized for their cannabis chewing gum. Anastassov agreed with quite a few of Helfant’s points, but was far more adamant about advising cannabis customers to quit smoking.
“Any smoke-in a position substance stains the teeth, unless it is entirely transparent. But I do not believe that is the principal trouble with cannabis—the principal trouble is the impact on the upper airway and lungs,” Anastassov mentioned. What to do rather? “Quit smoking and chew our gum.”
Properly, okay, no surprise there—Anastassov is the founder of a cannabis chewing gum organization. But he does have a point. Chewing gum has been shown to be helpful to the mouth. Not only does the act of chewing market great oral overall health, but it also stimulates the saliva glands, cleaning the teeth and staving off dry mouth. What’s far more, particular cannabinoids can essentially be helpful to the oral cavity, Anastassov mentioned.
“It’s recognized that the oral cavity is the dirtiest location in the human physique,” he mentioned. “But particular cannabinoids—in unique CBG and CBD—are essentially really great antimicrobial compounds.” CBG halogenated with fluoride, he mentioned, has been shown to be “extremely active in disrupting the life cycles of particular bacteria—most importantly, MRSA.”
MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant strain of staph bacteria. These widespread bacteria are typically harmless unless they enter the physique by way of a reduce or wound—which is why MRSA tends to each flourish and infect at-danger sufferers in hospitals.
Speak To Your Dentist, Seriously
Most importantly, specialists encourage cannabis smokers to speak with their dentists about their use. Helfant acknowledges that some sufferers could be wary of divulging use for worry of becoming judged, and some dentists could be unwilling to have the conversation for worry of legal ramifications.
“I’m 36 years old and in the [cannabis] business, so I’m almost certainly far more comfy speaking about it and far more knowledgeable,” he mentioned. “Younger dentists in basic could be far more comfy than say, a 75-year-old dentist would be,” due to the fact the older practitioner grew up with a heavier degree of stigma about cannabis.
Complete Disclosure Assists
Dentists and the ADA have been clear about a single point: If you arrive at a dental appointment just after consuming cannabis, it is specifically critical to disclose that truth. That is due to the fact there are potentials for adverse interactions with numbing and discomfort drugs utilised through the appointment.
Be sincere with your dentist. Cannabis could interfere with the discomfort drugs utilised through your appointment.
The practitioners operating with you, the patient, will also want to be conscious in case any adverse side effects of cannabis use arise (dry mouth, paranoia). There could also be complications with the legality of informed consent, which any healthcare practitioner calls for.
In the finish, it is not sufficient to claim that cannabis ruins teeth, or assists them. A range of things go into a cannabis user’s oral overall health. Some have to do with the chemical make-up of cannabis itself, and some are far more dependent on life-style selections. Furthermore, the science about oral overall health and cannabis is nonetheless preliminary—making it really hard to come to any clear conclusions.
For now, practicing these professional strategies, discovering options to smoking, and maintaining your dentist in the loop are the most effective strategies to safeguard these pearly whites when nonetheless enjoying the optimistic effects of cannabis.