What Is the Impact of Cannabis Addiction on Oral Health?
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Cannabis Addiction: Link to Oral and Cerebrovascular Disease

Published on Apr 09, 2022 and last reviewed on Nov 23, 2022   -  4 min read


Even though cannabis is banned in many countries, it is still legally available in many countries, and in many forms. Read the article to know more about cannabis addictions and smoking.

What Are the Origin and Forms of Cannabis?

The plant Cannabis sativa has the mechanism of producing mild sedation and is illicitly used for euphoria or mood enhancement for recreational purposes globally. Though it can also be medically beneficial for analgesic and antiemetic properties in clinical applications, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved cannabis safe for the treatment of any medical condition as such. However, cannabidiol, a substance present in cannabis, received approval in June 2018 as a treatment for some rare forms of epilepsy and in neuro medicine.

The psychoactive drug contains cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two natural compounds extracted from the plants of the genus cannabis. CBD can be extracted either from hemp or from cannabis. Hemp and cannabis have their origin in the Cannabis sativa. CBD is usually sold illegally or legally, depending on the country, either in gels, oils, or even supplements and extracts. THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, produces euphoria (the sensation coming with a "high"). This feeling can be familiar to those who consume it by smoking cannabis.

The dried leaves are the used part of the cannabis plant that is smoked commonly and historically as marijuana. Unfortunately, it remains the most widely abused form by more than 12 % of American adults. The dried leaves or flowers of the cannabis plant can be either usually used by rolling into a cigarette (joint form) or alternatively placed in water or pipe and smoked. The resin and oil forms are abused either by ingestion or inhalation.

Post-exposure to cannabis smoke, the victims of marijuana abuse are prone to increased THC concentrations between 0.5 % and 9.6 %. Vaping with cannabis or dabbing is another method of misusing cannabis with potent modes of administration, leading to a THC increase of approximately 66 to 75 % in the individual.

Consumption of cannabis or cannabis infiltrated foods may delay the onset of psychoactive effects by one to three hours; however, the THC levels in any of the methods remain a cause of neurovascular impairment and cognitive and psychomotor dysfunctions. Cannabis consumption or smoking is similarly associated with increased carcinogen content, just like tobacco users making them more prone to respiratory disease, oxidative stress, and oral cancers.

What Are the Detrimental Effects of Cannabis on General Health?

The spike in the use of cannabis is proportional to the cases of head and neck cancer types caused in recent decades. In addition, the acute and long-term chronic use of cannabis is associated with detrimental impairment of the central nervous and peripheral systems.

The various conditions associated with acute and chronic cannabis are: Cannabis withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Oral Impacts of Cannabis?

The direct impact of cannabis exposure on the oral cavity is even more profound, with the most common disorder like xerostomia (dryness of the mouth). In addition, the oral cavity's microbiota remains severely affected with limited or no salivary production, which risks the patient from developing various other oral health disorders.

Leukoedema is a common disorder observable in cannabis smokers. Other diseases of oral origin associated with marijuana or cannabis smoking include:

  • Gingival enlargement.

  • Erythroplakia.

  • Inflammation of the oral mucosal membranes.

  • Hyperkeratosis of oral tissues.

  • Leukoplakia.

Is the Risk of Oral Cancer Increased With Cannabis Use?

The inflammation produced in the oral cavity would be termed cannabis stomatitis. In addition, smoking cannabis tends to have an immunosuppressive impact making the individual prone to an increased risk of oral cancer. In the clinical research studies conducted by the ADA, a histormetric experiment conducted on laboratory rats proved a marked increase in alveolar bone loss as an adverse effect of cannabis because it demonstrates how specific healthy oral microbiota are destroyed or contaminated by marijuana, creating a hostile pathologic oral environment promoting periodontal disease and bone loss eventually.

The synergistic effect between tobacco smoke and cannabis can put the individual at high risk for developing head and neck cancers due to oral cancer. This is because cannabis stomatitis that creates oral inflammation of the mucous membranes, tongue, or the gingiva can potentially develop into neoplasia or malignancy if left untreated by the dental surgeon, in substance abusers of tobacco and cannabis for a long-standing period, or chronic users.

As it produces gross intoxication, the users of cannabis may find dental visits or sittings particularly difficult due to the side effects of the psychoactive cannabis, like paranoia, hyperactivity or reactivity, nervousness, dental fear, and anxiety. These mental health issues may complicate the visit to the dentist, especially to sit through surgical or long oral procedures.

The use of local anesthesia also may be complex for the dentist if the patient suffers from undetected systemic diseases, respiratory stress, or mental hyperactivity. In such cases, the physician or the dental surgeon can schedule multiple smaller appointments to treat the patient to rid them of their fear or anxiety.

What Is the Impact of Cannabis in Cerebrovascular Health?

It is also evident from clinical trials and studies that consuming cannabinoids through inhalation or combustion results in cerebral infarction. This occurs due to the natural or synthetic cannabinoids triggering intracranial vasoconstriction, leading to severely reduced cerebral blood flow (CBF), affecting the blood-brain barrier.

Research has established that oxidative stress (OS) is a major cause of vascular endothelial dysfunction in a causative effect due to cannabis smoking. Current scientific research considers that exposure to reactive oxygen species like H2O2, epoxides, nitrogen dioxide, peroxynitrite, other oxidative stress, and OS-induced or mediated pathways lead to cellular inflammation and tissue damage. This neuronal pathogenesis of cerebrovascular and neurological disease may be the leading cause of cerebrovascular stroke and Alzheimer's disease in cannabis users.


The risk of both oral cancers and mortality due to hemorrhagic or cerebrovascular ischemic diseases is directly correlated by clinical evidence to cannabis (both naturally or synthetically derived). Drug addicts, substance abusers, and even frequent users of cannabis need to be counseled and educated by the dental surgeon and the physician about the detrimental impact of cannabis on oral and neurovascular health. Lifestyle modification by healthy eating, regular dental visits, and most importantly, cessation of cannabis consumption or smoking can only prevent severe conditions that increase the risk of mortality in these individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Effect of Bhang on the Brain?

Bhang is a psychoactive drug, and it affects the central nervous system. Cannabinoids have a molecular structure known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids bind to the receptors and impair motor function. It is involved in activities like memory, learning, and decision-making and may cause panic and depression.


Does Cannabis Cause Vasodilation?

Cannabis causes vasodilation in the blood vessels. It relaxes the human pulmonary arteries by widening the blood vessels and increasing the blood flow without applying pressure. 


Is Brain Cell Damage Reversible in the Case of Cannabis Addiction?

In the case of cannabis addiction, the brain cells' growth depends upon the severity of the addiction and age. Continuous brain cell damage can lead to brain failure if the person persists with the drug. If the person discontinues the cannabis drug, then the brain cells can grow back.


Does Cannabis Kill Brain Cells?

There is a temporary effect on brain cells. Some brain cells die during drug consumption but do not permanently die. But continuous ingestion of cannabis can permanently damage brain cells.


Does Cannabis Constrict the Blood Vessels?

Cannabis affects the blood flow in the brain by dilating the blood vessels. The blood flow is higher in cannabis-addicted people than in normal, healthy people. Cannabis dilates the blood vessels and increases the blood flow in the pulmonary arteries without pressure.


Does Cannabis Cause Blood Thin?

Cannabis causes blood thinning. This is due to low blood pressure and a slow heart rate. By thinning the blood, cannabis can improve blood flow. This helps prevent blood clots from forming. It also prevents strokes and heart attacks.


What Are the Cardiovascular Effects of Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoid use has an adverse effect on the cardiovascular system. The effects include increased heart rate, harder heart pump, and dilating blood vessels. Chances of heart attack are higher after taking cannabinoids.


What Is the Cannabis Effect on the Brain?

Cannabis use impairs brain function. The use of drugs may interfere with memory, decision-making, learning, coordination, attention, and emotions.


How Does Cannabis Affect Teenagers’ Lives?

Cannabis affects the mental health of teenagers. It increases the risk of depression and anxiety. People who start using cannabis early may have long-lasting mental disorders like schizophrenia. It is a mental disorder in which people see and hear things that are not there. Cannabis use impairs driving, concentration, and coordination.


What Are the Side Effects of Cannabis Use?

Short-term side effects:
- Impairs driving.
- Impairs learning and memory.
- Affect mental health.
Long-term side effects:
- Increased risk of anxiety and depression.
- Increase the risk of mental health problems.
- Hurt the lungs and make it difficult to breathe.


What Are the Cannabis Effects on Teeth?

Cannabis smoking affects the teeth. It can lead to periodontal complications, gingivitis, irritation of the gums, dry mouth, leukoplakia, and an increase in tooth decay. It can lead to an increased risk of neck and mouth cancer.

Last reviewed at:
23 Nov 2022  -  4 min read




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