Can Smoking Marijuana Cause Cavities?

by Power Road Dental Care

Can Smoking Marijuana Cause Cavities?

Reviewed By Dr. Tyler N Davis, DMD

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the world of instant gratification, we often overlook the long-term effects of our choices. That bag of chips might satisfy your craving now, but your future self might not be thanking you. 

The same goes for smoking marijuana. While the immediate effects are often enjoyable, the impact on your oral health can be a hidden consequence.

In this blog, we will explore the connection between smoking marijuana and cavities as well as how it can affect your overall dental health.

Key Takeaway

Smoking marijuana doesn’t directly create cavities, but the dry mouth it causes combined with cravings for sugary snacks can lead to more tooth decay. Regular dental exams are key for marijuana users to catch these issues before they become serious.

How Does Smoking Marijuana Affect Your Mouth?

There are several ways smoking marijuana can negatively affect your oral health:

Dry Mouth

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana, reduces saliva production. Saliva plays a vital role in washing away food particles and bacteria, preventing cavities and gum disease. Chronic dry mouth, also known as ‘cotton mouth,’ creates an environment where harmful bacteria can thrive.

Increased Risk of Caries

Dry mouth combined with cravings for sugary snacks (“the munchies”) creates a perfect storm for cavities. Reduced saliva flow weakens tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay from sugary foods and drinks.

Gum Disease

Dry mouth and the buildup of bacteria can irritate gums, leading to inflammation and gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can progress to bone loss and even tooth loss.

Bad Breath

Dry mouth and the overgrowth of bacteria can contribute to bad breath, also known as halitosis. No amount of gum or mouthwash can cover up the odor caused by poor oral hygiene and bacteria buildup.

Oral Cancer

While research is ongoing, some studies suggest a link between smoking marijuana and an increased risk of mouth and neck cancer, particularly when combined with tobacco use.

The Craving Cascade

Did you know that when you smoke marijuana, THC interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, which are involved in regulating appetite and reward. This interaction can trigger intense cravings, often for:

  • Sugary snacks: Cookies, candy, pastries – these sugary treats may satisfy your sweet tooth, but the sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, leading to acid production that breaks down tooth enamel and increases cavity risk.
  • Starchy snacks: Potato chips, pretzels, crackers – These starchy snacks may seem harmless, but they break down into sugars in your mouth, creating the same cavity-causing environment as sugary treats.
  • Acidic foods: Sour candies, citrus fruits – While some acidity is okay, highly acidic foods can erode tooth enamel, making them more susceptible to cavities.

Long-Term Implications of Cannabis Use on Oral Health

Studies have shown that long-term marijuana use can lead to dental problems such as:

  • Bone loss: Chronic use can speed up bone loss around the teeth.
  • Tooth loss: Due to advanced periodontal disease, cannabis users may experience tooth loss.
  • Stained teeth: Marijuana smoke can stain teeth similar to tobacco use.

Oral Health and Preventative Measures

  • Regular smoking of marijuana can worsen existing dental issues and create new ones.
  • Preventative measures, such as staying hydrated, using mouthwash, and maintaining consistent dental hygiene, can mitigate some of the oral health implications of marijuana use.

Professional Dental Care

  • Regular dental exams are important for identifying and addressing any emerging issues early on.
  • Dental professionals can offer specific guidance on how to maintain oral health while using marijuana for either recreational or medicinal purposes.

Power Road Dental Care – Your Partners in Oral Health

At Power Road Dental Care, we understand that marijuana use is your personal decision. We offer a welcoming and judgment-free environment where you can discuss your oral health concerns openly. 

Our experienced team is here to provide personalized care and support for your overall dental health.

If you are in the Phoenix East valley and are searching for a dentist in Mesa, AZ or a ‘dental exam near me’ we can help. To book an appointment, call (480) 664-1438 or complete the online inquiry form

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