Smoking anything is bad for your dental health, but does that include marijuana?

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For some reason, people are very curious about cannabis and whether it has a negative impact on dental health. While the union of these two might seem weird — at least it does to me — there’s some logic behind this. As is the case with cigarettes, smoking marijuana does affect your mouth in negative ways, but it’s not as bad as it seems.

A large study from Duke University found links between smoking cannabis and different mouth diseases. Researchers discovered that unlike cigarettes, cannabis isn’t harmful for your lungs, cholesterol or blood pressure.

“While study participants who had used marijuana to some degree over the last 20 years showed an increase in periodontal disease from age 26 to 38, they did not differ from non-users on any of the other physical health measures,” says the study.

The most likely diseases regular marijuana smokers can develop include periodontal disease, xerostomia (a permanent form of dry mouth) and leukoplakia (the appearance of white spots on the inner part of people’s mouths). Consuming cannabis produces dry mouth, altering your mouth’s functioning and decreasing the development of saliva. This allows for bacteria to develop and which could also lead to cavities and infections.

Less serious conditions include gingivitis and teeth stains, which are due to the presence of smoke in your mouth. The act of smoking is bad for your mouth in any way you look at it, and there’s no way of preventing it.

If you like to smoke cannabis and are concerned by these results, take a deep breath and relax. There are plenty of ways to treat your cannabis-induced dry mouth, like having some water and chewing gum as you’re smoking. It wouldn’t hurt for you to try out vaporizers and other methods of consuming cannabis that doesn’t involve smoke. Another harmful thing you should be mindful of are the munchies, which generally strike late at night and cause many people to go to bed without brushing their teeth. I know this is Dental Health 101, but a reminder never hurt anyone.

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