Marijuana Myths: Does Smoking Cause Periodontal Disease or Tooth Decay?
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Marijuana Myths: Does Smoking Cause Periodontal Disease or Tooth Decay?

Marijuana Myths about Tooth Decay

There are many myths out there about marijuana, and as a person who whole-heartedly supports the movement towards re-legalization and decriminalization of cannabis, I feel that it's important to get the facts straight. So in this Factoid, let's go over a very popular myth that continues to be circulated by the dental, medical and governmental industries.

MARIJUANA MYTHS: Does Smoking Cause Periodontal Disease or Tooth Decay?

So, is it true? Does smoking marijuana cause periodontal disease or tooth decay? Well, the answer isn't as straight forward as you might think. The truth is that it isn't necessarily the marijuana that causes tooth decay or dental issues. It is one of the side effects of THC that can advance oral problems when combined with poor dental hygiene and a sugary diet.

This happens because one of the most common side effects of using marijuana is dry mouth, also commonly known as "cotton-mouth". Having a dry mouth means that your production of saliva becomes limited, and saliva is very beneficial for keeping your teeth clean because it neutralizes bacteria and plaque that create an acid that attacks your teeth. THC also has a very beneficial side effect that increases the appetite (affectionately known as "the munchies"). Though this is a beneficial side effect for many with medical maladies that create a decrease in appetite, it also has a down side, which is that it often creates the desire to consume sugary or high carbohydrate foods.

For an example, to aide in uncovering this myth, let's say that you have a person who brushes their teeth one time or less per day, who consumes mostly sugary or high carb junk foods. When that person smokes cannabis, it creates cotton mouth and then produces the munchies.

That person notices their dry sticky mouth, then goes to eat something sweet and likely picks a soda to drink, which then throws all sorts of sugars into their mouth, which activates plaque and dietary bacteria's to start the job of breaking down food.


Because this person isn't eating any foods that help clean the teeth (such as apples), and are not cleaning their teeth after they eat, those dietary bacteria's stay on their teeth and continue to eat up everything they come in contact with, including that persons teeth. The cycle then continues until the teeth are eaten up.

One of the biggest problems with marijuana smoking and tooth decay is not so much soda pop, but the eating of sugary foods, and the most popular food for those smoking marijuana is cereal. And cereal is certainly high in sugar.

Once high from smoking marijuana, there is a tiredness that shows up, and the need to go to sleep, right away. This going to sleep quickly means that the person smoking marijuana does not brush their teeth and will instead go to sleep, and this of course adds to tooth decay and problems.

In summary: Smoking marijuana itself does not cause periodontal disease or tooth decay, it the results of smoking marijuana that could cause periodontal disease and tooth decay.

However, THC (a cannabinoid compound in marijuana) in any form can accelerate tooth decay and oral distresses when combined with poor oral hygiene and an improper diet.

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Comments (7)

This might be fallacy but marijuana is still an illegal drug..

all on 4

Well, it is quite interesting article to read but still marijuana is harmful for health. It is always better not to consume marijuana and yes when it comes to oral health it is good to maintain a good oral hygiene. It is essential to maintain a balanced diet in order to have a healthy teeth and gums.

@ all on 4: you seem very uneduacted at all, marijuana is not harmful for health and to prove my point simply, there has never been 1 documented case of death because of marijuana, not 1. if you really think its harmful then backup your statement dont just post pointless comments that are both flawed and no source of information to back it up.

marijuana may not cause physical death but it does cause brain cell deterioration and you proved that John by spelling uneducated wrong. It is harmful to your health.

I don't think he deliberately misspelled a word. He obviously feels strongly for this and had an emotional response. That caused him to type vigorously and mistype "uneducated". It wasn't a very obvious misspelling, just a slight switch of two letters. Scientifically there is very little evidence to support a "brain cell deterioration" , asphyxia does cause brain cell loss though and smoking anything can cause this. On the other hand, there are methods of usage that do not cause asphyxia. I do not hold a degree on this subject, but I have spent years researching the effects of marijuana usage. The monetary benefits of legalization vastly outweigh the minor effects that were brought about in the early 20th century. In fact, the idea of marijuana usage causing insanity was originally designed and created by the timber industry in order to shock people into outlawing marijuana and cease using it as a paper source. Although a terrible example, President Obama was a frequent marijuana user and can be regarded as one of the most successful people in his field in America. I fully support this article and I found it very intriguing.
I do not agree with this argument. Is there a proper scientific study to back up the comments? As it seems that opinion here is regarded as fact, then I will add that two long term marijuana smokers that I know both have proper daily oral hygiene, both do NOT drink any sugary drinks, and both are vegetarians (leaning towards the vegan end). The third long term marijuana smoker I know has a balanced non vegetarian diet, good oral hygiene and loves to drink sugary drinks. All three have periodontitis. The only common denominator is they all are long term marijuana smokers of over 30 years.
John Nucter, every year in Australia we have deaths caused by cannabis usage. These are documented under a government website which I have included the link.