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Effects of Marijuana on Oral Health


In the last decade, cannabis or marijuana use has shifted from being a taboo and hush subject to the next cool thing. The hundreds of studies and research to discover the seemingly limitless fascinating benefits to marijuana use has played various roles in its acceptance by the general public. This was further promoted by the legalization of using, buying, and selling marijuana in many regions of the United States – both, for medical and recreational purposes.

Endorsed by celebrities and social media influencers, cannabis has now made a strong foothold in today’s society. Today, the magic plant is used to treat a number of conditions and diseases – ranging from anxiety and PTSD to epilepsy, glaucoma, and even cancer. Perhaps the most common medical use of marijuana is as a natural alternative to painkillers due to its unique ability to act on the body’s endocannabinoid system. However, a much-overshadowed area of marijuana use consists of its effects on one’s oral health.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common complaints that marijuana users are confronting. And how they can be prevented or avoided.


Cottonmouth, or dry mouth, is the most common oral cavity complaint that habitual or medical marijuana users are facing. Medically known as xerostomia, the condition is caused by a disorder of the salivary glands.

As we discussed earlier, marijuana has a unique ability to stimulate the body’s endocannabinoid system by binding to receptors in the brain. This leads one’s brain to inhibit the production of saliva by the salivary glands.

 As saliva is the element that keeps the oral cavity moistened and frictionless, a decrease in its release will understandably cause a dry mouth – like the insides of your mouth have just been swabbed by a piece of cotton.

Oral inflammatory and periodontal diseases

Apart from keeping the oral cavity moistened and comfortable, saliva has many important other functions as well. One of the most important of the many roles it plays to improve our overall health is providing immunity. Saliva does not only kill the microbes in the food we eat, but it also cleans out the pieces of food that are left in our mouth.

Its alkaline pH neutralizes the acid produced by the oral bacteria – sparing it from rotting the teeth. This function of the saliva prevents the formation of cavities, gingivitis (inflamed gums), oral candidiasis, and thrush. As marijuana suppresses the tendency of salivary glands to produce saliva, the occurrence of these diseases begins to rise, and our oral health takes a strong blow.

Decayed teeth, dental caries, and poor oral health

Another way in which cannabis affects our health is by stimulating the production of leptin. Leptin is a hormone naturally produced in our bodies to regulate our hunger and satiety centers of the brain.

With increased production, a person is more likely to overeat – this phenomenon is commonly called the ‘munchies’ in marijuana users. Most marijuana users will, at this point, turn to junk food to satisfy their hunger. This junk food promotes the decaying of teeth, dental caries, and bad breath.

The Final word

Though the effects of marijuana use on our oral health cannot be denied, the damage can be sufficiently controlled by good oral hygiene and lifestyle. Brushing your teeth and flossing every day should be a regular part of your life – whether you use marijuana or not. Furthermore, reaching for healthy snacks instead of processed foods to satisfy your hunger can go a long way to improving and maintaining your oral health.

It’s never too late! Before addressing any issue related to your smile, gums, teeth cavity, and other oral or general health issue, consult with DR. Jean Jacques Edderai. Our dental prophylaxis and cleaning include every 3 to 4 months checkup to allow Dr. Edderai keep a watchful eye on your oral health, and prevent cavities and other minor issues before treatment starts.

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Remember the best advice from your Dentist “Unaddressed issues will never get resolved by themselves”.