Is marijuana bad for your teeth?

Q: I’ve heard that marijuana is bad for your teeth. Is this true?

A: Marijuana does contain tar – which is of course very bad for your teeth and gums – but it contains less tar than you’d find in tobacco. A 2008 study showed that marijuana use can lead to periodontal disease in heavy smokers those who smoked 40 or more times per year. Marijuana also contains many known carcinogens (chemicals that are known to cause cancer), although it is difficult for researchers to get enough data to determine a link because people often don’t admit to drug use. Also, many people who smoke marijuana also smoke cigarettes, which are known to cause increased risk of many forms of cancer including cancer of the lip, tongue, and lungs. Xerostomia(also known as dry mouth) is another side effect of marijuana.

Also, common activities associated with marijuana use can be harmful to your teeth. If you consume a “pot brownie,” for instance, you’re eating sugary chocolate and, in your altered state, you’re probably not going to brush your teeth afterward. The famous extreme hunger (AKA “munchies”) that results from marijuana consumption leads people to eat all sorts of snacks, often without brushing or flossing. Since the saliva flow is also decreased due to the effects of the marijuana, you are particularly vulnerable to tooth decay.

If you do smoke marijuana, it is particularly important to get your dental exams including your oral cancer exam and cleanings regularly. Speak to your dentist about what extra preventative measures you can take to keep your teeth and your gums healthy.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

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