How Smoking Weed Affects Dental Health

How Smoking Weed Affects Dental Health

Published on 8/19/22

As cannabis gets more popularized and normalized into mainstream pop culture, it's only natural that more and more people will seek it out and use it frequently. After all, what's the sense in fighting so hard and long for something to be legalized and not allowing yourself to enjoy that thing? For many, despite the numerous new and innovative ways of cannabis consumption that have been developed, that means either rolling up some cannabis flower into a joint or blunt or packing a bowl and sparking up the bong. Either way, according to statistics, you're likely smoking it. 

But, especially after two years of dealing with a primarily respiratory global pandemic, these days, folks are getting more and more conscious about their overall health, and it's not exactly a secret that smoking isn't great for you. That's why in this article, we're going to focus on your oral health, breaking down the pros, cons, and downsides when it comes to smoking pot and your teeth! 

Today we here at Where's Weed are setting aside some much-deserved time and coverage of marijuana and dental health, breaking down and answering questions like what does weed do to your teeth! We'll also touch on the links between edibles and tooth decay, how to prevent it, and if smoking weed after brushing teeth actually does anything to help!  

So without further delay, let's get right into this comprehensive breakdown on oral health and smoking cannabis! 

Is Smoking Bad for Your Oral Health? 

Simply put, smoking is really bad for your overall health. Unfortunately for many, that includes your oral health. Smokers, whether it's blunts, joints, or via water pipes or dab rigs, are especially susceptible to issues like gum disease, tooth decay, discolored teeth, increased levels of oral bacteria, and a condition known as xerostomia, otherwise known in the stoner community as "cotton mouth." 

While it is possible for all of these issues to be avoided mainly by brushing frequently and consulting with your dentist, long-term habitual smoking will take its toll eventually, no matter how cautious you are with your oral health. The carcinogens and smoke themselves will irritate your gums which causes them to recede (which is why dabs hurt your teeth), dry out your mouth, and damage the surface of your teeth, while the increased levels of bacteria will take advantage of those weaknesses. 

Another factor to consider is the munchies. After a quality smoke session, most reach for that bag of chips or sugary, tasty treats to enjoy. Of course, after stuffing your face, the last thing you're likely thinking about is brushing your teeth, right? Making a habit of falling asleep for the night without brushing your teeth after smoking and tearing through some munchies can have a serious impact on your oral health, leading to tooth decay, cavities, and bad breath.  

On top of that, becoming a habitual smoker of pretty much anything will put you at a higher risk of oral and upper respiratory forms of cancer. While the studies directly linking cannabis use to oral cancers are somewhat limited, it's not exactly a secret that smoking isn't great for you in any form. That's why many cannabis users have switched to dry leaf vaporizers or concentrate oil pens instead. 

And while all of this stuff we laid out above is true, it's still not impossible to have a smoke session every now and then without wrecking your oral hygiene and ruining your teeth. Here's how to do just that! 

How to Smoke Without Ruining Your Teeth

Nothing in life is entirely black and white, there are always shades of grey. You'll just have to be careful that those shades of grey aren't along your gum line. Here are some handy tips to keep in mind to protect your mouth, teeth, and oral health while enjoying an occasional smoke session with yourself or some buddies.

Stay Hydrated

While staying hydrated is generally good health advice for pretty much every human being on planet earth, it's especially important for those who make a habit of smoking pot frequently. Not only will you feel better getting some water into your system, since one study showed that 75 percent of American adults are chronically dehydrated, but it will help combat the dry mouth, gum damage, and bad breath we talked about in the previous section. 

Brush and Floss Daily

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If you're making the choice to smoke cannabis instead of less harmful methods, then you'll need to be extra diligent about brushing and flossing those pearly whites. You should aim to brush a minimum of twice per day with quality fluoride-rich toothpaste. If you're a frequent smoker, it might not be a bad idea to grab some prescription-strength toothpaste the next time you visit your dentist. 

On top of all that brushing, you'll need to keep on top of flossing as well. Flossing daily will keep those gums healthy, which puts them less at risk of disease and receding. 

If you're in a pinch and don't happen to have your toothbrush on you after a session, then go ahead and throw some baking soda into about 8 ounces of warm water. Swishing that around in your mouth after a smoke session will do a work of good to help remove the sticky film left over by cannabis smoke and keep your teeth white and unstained by smoke. Then, when you get to your toothbrush, make sure to brush thoroughly. 

Avoid Sugary and Processed Snacks During the Munchies

While we acknowledge that this step is likely far easier said than done, putting a little bit of time and thought into what exactly you're going to reach for when the munchies hit is worth doing. Not only will it protect your waistline due to all those processed sugars and extra calories, but it will protect your oral health as well! 

Naturally sweet options like fruit, salty trail mix, or a little dark chocolate would all be better options than ultra-processed candies, snacks, and sugary drinks like soda. That lack of massive amounts of sugar won't mess with your saliva production and will help keep that bacteria in your mouth from going crazy in there. However, if you do end up eating that whole bag of potato chips, avoid damaging your teeth by using fluoride mouthwash to remove bacteria and keep your mouth healthy.

While it might sound lame, those snacks we suggested will taste even better than they usually do with cannabinoid power flowing through your system! 

Visit Your Dentist Frequently

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An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially concerning tooth decay. If you've ever needed a cavity filled, a root canal, or anything else tooth-pain related, you know exactly how correct that previous statement is. 

If you're dealing with any of those issues and still smoking, however, you're for sure setting yourself up for some pain and misery down the line. While we can't say for sure that smoking will make any mouth infections you're dealing with worse, we can say for sure that it won't make them better. All of that can be avoided by following the tips we laid out above and, of course, going to see your dentist! 

Make sure you're honest and transparent about your smoking habits with your dentists so they can adequately advise and guide you on what and how to protect yourself as best as possible. However, showing up to appointments and getting regular dental exams is the first step.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, smoking cannabis doesn't need to be a disaster for your oral health and hygiene. While smoking is not the ideal method, it's still the most popular for cannabis consumption, so there's no point sacrificing good enough on the altar of perfection. 

Make sure to brush frequently, keep flossing, make some basic healthier swaps, healthier munchies options, drink some water, and be honest with your dentist about what and how you're using cannabis. As long as you're willing to do all of that, it's likely possible you'll be able to enjoy a joint or a few hits off of a bong every now and then without destroying your teeth and overall dental hygiene. 

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