Cannabis in Dentistry

Cannabis in Dentistry

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Marijuana has rapidly become a common day occurrence, due to the legalization in Canada and most U.S. States, and it’s time we discuss how this can affect a patient’s oral health in the long term.

Properties of Cannabis and Usage

Cannabis is well known for its pain-relieving properties, and there have been many studies on how cannabis can be used a pain reliever for post-op recovery. In fact, herbs have been used to heal and alleviate pain in most Asian and African medicine for centuries, so it is not surprising that cannabis, an herb, has been being utilized more and more in recent times.

However, despite it’s natural healing properties that can assist in post operative recovery, the act of smoking itself can lead to oral health issues, that may not be worth the pros associated with cannabis use.

Potential Risks

It is a known fact that smoking is detrimental to a patient’s overall oral health, and thus, despite the natural properties in cannabis, smoking marijuana can lead to more serious health issues. Inhaling smoke can lead to gingival enlargement, erythroplakia and/or leukoplakia, which has the potential to develop cancer cells. Compounded with the fact that most marijuana smokers will be using other substances in conjunction with the cannabis, including tobacco and alcohol, which can further irritate the mouth and be a detriment to the oral health of the patient.

Patients may inquire about alternative methods of taking cannabis, including edible and topical forms, and see if they are just as damaging as smoking marijuana. Although with these alternative forms, the act of smoking is eliminated, it does not necessarily mean that they are free of harm. Increased cannabis use has also been linked to xerostomia, which is extreme dry mouth and can lead to other oral health conditions. It is also linked to poor oral hygiene practices, increased consumption of carcinogenic foods and infrequent visits to dental offices.

You Decide..

Cannabis use will remain a controversial subject matter for years to come, but it is up to us as oral health professionals to provide information to our patients if they ask, and ensure our answers are informed and subjective.

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