If you’re using marijuana, it’s important to let your dentist know. Smoking marijuana can damage oral health and having a tolerance for marijuana may affect how a person responds to anesthesia, post-treatment healing, and medications.
The number of states where marijuana is illegal (nine) is smaller than the combined number of states that:
- Decriminalized the plant (three)
- Allow consumption for medical purposes (27)
- Have legalized the darn thing (10)
But with this increase in the availability of legal marijuana in the US comes a potential increase in use, which can have a substantial impact when visiting your dentist.
Marijuana Use and Anesthesia
For dental surgery — or any surgery requiring anesthesia — it’s critical that patients feel comfortable with sharing information about their marijuana use. Medical professionals in Colorado have discovered that some patients who regularly use marijuana require more anesthesia than those who don’t, leading to complications for the anesthesiologist and the dental surgeon. Side effects for those who use marijuana and go under anesthesia can include low blood pressure and depressed heart function during surgery.
Ultimately, more information is needed to determine the overall health and medical implications of marijuana use. Research in this area is hard to come by., because the federal government still considers the marijuana plant a Schedule 1 drug. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, Schedule 1 drugs are “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Because of this limitation, health providers are left to monitor the impact of marijuana on anesthesia, lung health, and tolerance to pain medications in their practices. And when there is a gap in what professionals understand, there’s also a gap in public knowledge around the matter.
More Research is Needed on How Marijuana Impacts Our Health
A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists revealed that there is a lot of misinformation in the American public around the use of marijuana. Another revealing statistic from the survey is that 35% of respondents don’t think it’s important to discuss their use of marijuana with their medical and dental providers. More and more anecdotal evidence is proving them otherwise.
Medical and dental practitioners can better care for their patients if they are aware of their use of marijuana, including the dosage and frequency. This will lead them to better understand how it could affect their health.