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A dentist chimes in on potential concerns about oral health and cannabis use.

Don’t let your teeth go to pot. How marijuana use can impact your oral health

December 16, 2015 // by admin


One of the anticipated topics to be debated in 2016 is the legalization of marijuana. Perhaps one of the more overlooked areas of marijuana use debate is the impact on oral health. In that arena, dentists have strong concerns about marijuana use, legal or otherwise.

Using marijuana — whether smoked or ingested — reduces the amount of saliva produced in the mouth due to its effects on the nervous system. With frequent use, this effect can result in an uncomfortable condition called dry mouth, or xerostomia.

“Saliva is a very important part of preventing tooth decay. It’s why most dentists nowadays will recommend chewing sugarless gum because it helps you produce more saliva,” said South Weymouth Dentist Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD. “Without sufficient saliva to wash away food and bacteria from the teeth and gums, xerostomia can cause bad breath and mouth sores. Additionally, a dry mouth promotes tooth decay and possible tooth loss if the decay is not treated promptly.

Wolfert also notes that marijuana users may be at risk for gum disease — also known as periodontal disease. Gum disease occurs when oral bacteria are allowed to flourish in the mouth, causing inflammation of the gum tissue and bone that surrounds the teeth. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Having a dry mouth due to smoking marijuana also contributes to the development of periodontal disease.

“Mind you, these conditions are not exclusive to marijuana use. Excessive tobacco and alcohol use can also lead to dry mouth and the aforementioned conditions,” said Wolfert. “As a dental professional, I’m not for any behavior that puts your oral health at risk. If you do engage in those activities, it’s important to know what it can do your teeth and act accordingly.”

In addition to brushing and flossing at least twice per day, Wolfert recommends chewing sugarless gum and eating foods that induce saliva—e.g. celery, citrus foods and fruits. And, if in doubt, drinking water also will help produce more saliva. And, of course, regular checkups with your dentist.

“Most dentists will screen for oral cancers and gum disease. It’s been a standard part of our exams for quite some time,” said Dr. Wolfert. “That doesn’t mean we support marijuana use or condemn those who do. But if you do, practice moderation so you don’t cause damage that can’t be undone.”

Dr. Wolfert’s practice, The Toothboss, is located at 1121 Main Street in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. For more information, visit Dr. Wolfert’s website at or call 781-335-0604 to schedule a consultation.

About The Toothboss

The Toothboss offers: comprehensive examinations (written treatment and treatment plan provided); cosmetics; crowns, bridges and tooth-colored restorations; partial and full dentures; periodontics (early cases treated); oral surgery; restoration of conventional and small diameter implants; and emergency services (24-hour emergency phone number available).

The Toothboss accepts most insurance plans. They also accept payment from most PPO and indemnity plans, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Delta Dental. They also accept all major credit cards and have arranged payment plans through LendingClub.

Don’t let your teeth go to pot. How marijuana use can impact your oral health December 16, 2015 // by admin SOUTH WEYMOUTH, MA One of the anticipated topics to be debated in 2016 is the