The legalization of marijuana is a train that doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. While there are many medical benefits of marijuana use, consuming this recreational drug may not be as healthy for your teeth and gums, especially if you want to get dental implants. Here's how marijuana can impact the viability of dental implants in people who use it on a regular basis.
Marijuana Use Increases the Risk of Getting Gum Disease
A study published in the Feb 2008 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association found young people who smoked marijuana were more likely to present evidence of gum disease by age 32. The study tracked 903 young adults starting from age 3 and followed up with the participants about their marijuana use at regular intervals beginning at age 18. The researchers found that heavy users of cannabis were 60 percent more likely to present with gum disease than people who hadn't smoked it at all.
The reason for the higher risk is not clear, but it may be because one side effect of marijuana use is dry mouth. Cannabis has a negative impact on saliva production. The decreased saliva causes food particles to stick around longer and allows bacteria to breed more freely, contributing to the onset of gum disease.
Gum disease can negatively affect tooth and gum healing after the implant has been placed. The presence of excess bacteria also increases the risk of an infection, which can cause the implant to fail to integrate with the bone.
Marijuana is an Immunosuppressant
There's a lot of talk about how marijuana can help treat some diseases, but the drug can also contribute to the onset of some conditions because of its effect on the immune system. The body has what are called myeloid-derived suppressor cells whose function is to suppress the immune system. Compounds found in marijuana stimulate the production of these cells, which leads to a reduction in the effectiveness of the immune system and makes people who use cannabis more susceptible to infections and disease.
A suppressed immune system can make it more difficult for your body to deal with oral infections. Left unchecked, these infections can destroy gum and bone tissue and either prevent a new implant from taking hold or cause an existing implant to fail.
The Act of Smoking Marijuana Negatively Impacts Healing
The act of smoking marijuana affects the mouth in a ways that's similar to smoking cigarettes. As noted previously, marijuana causes dry mouth partly because it reduces saliva production. However, the actual smoke from cannabis cigarettes dries out the gums and soft tissues. Additionally, inhaling the smoke creates a vacuum affect in the mouth that's bad for newly implanted teeth because the pressure can dislodge the post.
Not only does this increase the risk of the implant taking hold, but it can cause a condition known as dry socket. If you had a tooth pulled as a precursor to placing a dental implant, a blood clot will form at the extraction site. The act of smoking can cause this blood clot to become dislodged, exposing the nerves and bone to everything that enters the mouth such as air, fluids, and food. The result is often severe pain and infection.
Treating dry socket can delay the placing of the implant post. If the post has already been put in, the dentist may have to remove it depending on how bad your condition is.
Although smoking marijuana can be a pleasurable experience, it's best to stop using the drug a few weeks before, during, and a period of time after getting dental implants. Doing so will increase the chances of successful implants so you can obtain the smile you've always wanted.
For more information about how cannabis use can impact your oral health and dental implants, contact a dentist.