Forever Dental

Dental health and Weed, pot, marijuana, cannabis, and THC

In Chicago since 2012, and Illinois since 2020, the haze of marijuana smoke has become a familiar fragrance. You smell weed while walking down the street, and the presence of THC-infused gummies are everywhere.

With this change, we frequently get three kinds of questions:

  • Can I smoke weed or marijuana, or have an edible, before my dental appointment, to help relax?
  • Is marijuana bad for my teeth and gums?
  • Can I smoke weed with a temporary crown or bridge in my mouth?
A cloud of smoke

Can I smoke weed/marijuana/cannabis, or have an edible, before my dental appointment, to help relax?

We strongly recommend that you don’t use marijuana at least 24 hours prior to your dental visit.

Consuming marijuana can inadvertently cause the opposite of the intended relaxing effect and patients can become anxious, paranoid, and have an increased heart rate. This can make it more difficult to perform procedures and might also increase the risk of needing more local anesthetic than expected.

During a dental procedure, it’s important for you to be able to listen to your body and provide feedback to your dentist on how you are feeling. It’s important to communicate that to your dentist as it’s happening, because it could be a sign of a larger issue that the dentist will then be able to address.  Being high during a dental procedure can dull your senses and masks these possible warning signs. That pain may be dulled too much, or you might confuse that lightheadedness with the feeling of being high. The warning sign might be ignored altogether, leading to a worse outcome.

There is a possibility as well that being high on cannabis can impair your body’s ability to form clots around open wounds. This is important because, with a reduced ability to clot, a dental procedure will take longer to heal and therefore increase your risk to more germs and bacteria over time. However, the research on this is mixed, at best. Only a few studies have evaluated “hematological effects” (blood effects) in human surgical patients, but they are generally poor studies and the effects are not conclusive.

Does smoking marijuana or taking edibles affect my teeth, gums, or oral health?

Studies show that long term use of cannabis can increase your risk of periodontal disease.   Heavy smokers may have worse gum disease than light or occasional smokers.

Also, using cannabis can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth or xerostomia causes a higher risk of cavities. With decreased saliva, your body cannot neutralize the cavity-causing acid that develops in your mouth after eating.

Gummies, brownies, or other edibles can have a similar impact as sweet, sticky foods: it causes cavities.  Sweet treats lower the pH level in your mouth which then gives acids a more forgiving environment to attack the enamel in your teeth.

Increased snacking is also a known effect from marijuana use.  The more frequent snacking, especially of foods that are high in sugar and fermentable carbohydrates, can increase your risk of cavities as well.

Smoking can also stain your teeth and cause bad breath.  The stains can be difficult to remove and can impact the aesthetics of your smile.

Studies have also shown there’s an increased risk of oral cancer with smoking cannabis. Smoke from cannabis can have some of the same carcinogens as smoking tobacco, and cannabis use increases oral premalignant lesions such as cannabis stomatitis and erythroplakia.

So, yes, there are significant potentially negative effects to the health of your teeth, gums and mouth if you smoke marijuana or take edibles consistently over a long period of time.

Can I smoke weed or eat gummies with a temporary crown or bridge in my mouth?

Although smoking marijuana will not cause the temporary crown to fall out, sticky foods, such as gummies can increase the risk of your temporary falling off.  Also, temporary crowns stain more easily than permanent crowns and your natural teeth.  Smoking may increase staining of your temporary crown or bridge.

A person holding a green THC gummy

I want to keep smoking marijuana. What dental health practices do you recommend?

Similar to drinking soda or eating candy, do everything in moderation. Also make sure you avoid consuming it before your dental procedures.

It’s extremely important for you to maintain a rigorous dental hygiene routine, as you are far more susceptible to developing gum disease and cavities. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash to combat dry mouth. You should also continue to see your dentist regularly, to monitor and address any emerging oral health issues promptly.

We at Forever Dental are here to help patients navigate their dental health and help guide you on making healthy choices that fit your life.  With a comprehensive approach to dental needs, we ensure each patient receives personalized care and advice, particularly those who use marijuana, cannabis and THC.

As cannabis usage has become more common, it also poses unique challenges to dental health. By staying informed and proactive, users can minimize the negatives and stay healthy through their entire lives.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to make an appointment at one of our locations, in Brighton Park (Archer & Kedzie) or Belmont Cragin (Belmont & Central), Chicago, today.

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