Although it remains federally banned, cannabis use is increasing, as many states legalize it’s use for medicinal purposes. While the harmful effects of tobacco smoking on oral health are well publicized, there has been less publicity about the impact of smoking cannabis. Evidence that suggests cannabis may have a negative impact on oral health.
According to the American Dental Association:
- Cannabis smoking is associated with periodontal complications, xerostomia, and leukoplakia as well as increased risk of mouth and neck cancers.
- Smoking is associated with gingival enlargement, erythroplakia and chronic inflammation of the oral mucosa with hyperkeratosis and leukoplakia, sometimes referred to as “cannabis stomatitis,” that can develop into malignant neoplasias.
- The immunosuppressive effects of cannabis may contribute as well to a higher prevalence of oral candidiasis compared to non-users.
Smoking cannabis frequently, has been associated with poor quality of oral health, but etiology has been complicated by the number of associated factors with frequent users, including high tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use; poor oral hygiene practices; and infrequent visits to dentists.
It also leads to xerostomia (dry mouth), which can contribute to a number of oral health conditions. Additionally, frequent use has been associated with disruption of brain development, particularly among adolescents, who are also at a critical period for brain development.
Recommendations for Cannabis Users Oral Health Care:
- Regular dental visits and oral care.
- Eat healthy, nutritious snacks over sweet, cariogenic snacks.
- Use preventive care with fluoride.
- Avoid alcohol-containing oral care products.