Does Cannabis Use Negatively Impact Oral Health?

Recreational cannabis (marijuana) consumption has been legal in Washington State since 2012. With the increase in cannabis use, since it’s legalization, we are seeing the effects it has on oral health.

As health professionals, we understand that there are benefits of cannabis to treat certain ailments, but we also have to educate patients about the impacts it can have on gum and tooth health

The legalization of marijuana is still relatively new and only on a state-by-state basis so there isn’t a lot of data to determine long-term oral health effects.

The data is also confounded by several associated factors seen in frequent marijuana users including, high tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use, poor oral hygiene practices, and increased snacking on high sugar/carbohydrate foods.

Smoking (of any kind) can also lead to dry mouth (xerostomia), which significantly increases the risk of cavities.


Through various studies, marijuana use has also been associated with an increased risk of periodontal disease. A systematic review published in 2019 that took into account previously mentioned confounding factors found significantly higher rates of periodontal disease in marijuana users than non-users.

They also found that in those cases, there was an increase in the number of pocket depths greater than 4mm, meaning greater attachment loss and worse severity of the disease.

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There is still ongoing research to determine further and long-term effects of cannabis use on oral health. Work is also being done to distinguish between smoking marijuana and other forms of use. It is thought that some of the negative effects may be the result of smoking rather than the actual cannabis itself.

As always we work hard to stay up to date on new information and share the most current with you as it is made available, but in the meantime here are some steps you can take to help mitigate the effects of cannabis use:

  • Practice good oral hygiene habits at home. Brushing for 2min2x/day with an electric toothbrush, and flossing or using a water flosser daily.
  • Use toothpaste and mouth rinse that contains fluoride. If you have concerns about fluoride, try xylitol as an alternative.
  • Stay current on dental visits. Keeping up your preventive visits will ensure we catch any emerging disease or cavity early on.
  • If you notice dry mouth, speak with your dental provider to learn how you can treat it.
  • Ask questions! We know many people may not feel comfortable discussing their marijuana use, but please be assured we as healthcare professionals are not here to judge you. We are here to share the knowledge we have gained to improve your oral health!