Can I Get Bad Breath From Medical Marijuana?
Posted by Glenn Beierle on 02/03/2017 in Medical Marijuana
Updated on January 7, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
The good news about smoking marijuana is that it doesn’t come with the increased risk for cancer that accompanies cigarette smoking. This is because marijuana is more natural and doesn’t contain the carcinogens that cigarettes do. The bad news, however, is that it can give you bad breath.
For the majority of products meant to be smoked, there is always a risk for bad breath. Marijuana, however, may have a particularly high risk due to the xerostomia side effect, colloquially referred to as “cotton mouth.” This happens because THC inhibits the production of saliva in the mouth, which creates the perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria.
Saliva plays a cleaning role in our mouths due to the acid content, so when concentrations are low, bad breath is almost always sure to follow. In some studies, smoking marijuana has also been linked to periodontal disease — otherwise known as gum disease. Bad breath is one of the hallmark symptoms for both gum disease and tooth decay.
Here are some must-know facts about how medical marijuana can affect your bad breath and overall oral health.
Oral Hygiene and Medical Marijuana
It is important to keep up on your dental hygiene when smoking medical cannabis. Per the recommendation of the American Dental Association, you should be getting a tooth cleaning at least once a year. Marijuana smokers may want to consider upping that to every six months — or more, if recommended by the dentist.
Chronic dry mouth is associated with certain negative effects, including:
- Lowered or changed sense of taste
- Sore throats from both dryness and inhalation of smoke
- Feeling like it’s hard to swallow or speak
- Dental plaque build-up
- Perleche and angular cheilitis, which is when the corners of your mouth become dry and cracked
Tips to Avoid Dry Mouth
In addition to the health risks associated with chronic dry mouth, the sensation of cotton mouth is plain unpleasant. There are several steps you can take to curb the dry mouth associated with smoking medical cannabis:
- Keep water on hand when you’re smoking medical marijuana, and take a sip of it every few minutes to keep your mouth hydrated. Chugging all the water at once will not work. If you get bored with water, substitute for seltzer. Don’t go for sugary drinks, as those will dehydrate your mouth even more.
- Stimulate saliva production by chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on a sugar-free candy. These two items must be sugar-free to produce the benefits you’re looking for.
- Buy a humidifier to eliminate dryness in the air, which just exacerbates dry mouth. There are many inexpensive humidifiers you can buy that won’t break the bank.
- Avoid using mouthwashes that have alcohol as one of the ingredients.
- Lower the amount of caffeine you ingest per day. Caffeine contributes to dehydration, so consider switching to tea in the morning instead of coffee.
Other Practical Tips for Avoiding Bad Breath When Smoking Medical Marijuana
Bad breath after smoking medical marijuana does not have to be a foregone conclusion. There are a few steps you can take to lower your risk for halitosis:
1. Clean Your Marijuana Smoking Tools
If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your smoking accessories, you definitely have a higher risk for bad breath due to any lingering mold or bacteria. Clean your tools so you don’t inhale these bacteria and germs that end up sitting in your mouth until the next time you brush.
2. Consume Your Marijuana in a Way That Doesn’t Involve Smoking
There are several types of medical marijuana products that don’t involve smoking, including edibles, tinctures, capsules, topical creams and transdermal patches — just to name a few. These all come with the benefit of having a lesser chance to affect your breath.
3. Check out Cannabis-Infused Mints
There are cannabis-infused mints you can pop after you smoke that can help to abate bad breath. They also, by virtue of their name, have cannabis in them — which could mean you can actually smoke less than you otherwise would and have the mints make up for the deficit.
4. Avoid Consuming Super Sugary Foods After You Smoke Medical Marijuana
Getting the munchies is not an inherently bad thing — in fact, some patients who are prescribed medical cannabis use the product to stimulate their appetite. The foods you choose to eat, however, do matter. Include as many fruits and vegetables with antioxidants as you can in your meals and snacks. Eating too many sugary foods after smoking marijuana can contribute to cotton mouth as well as plaque retention and cavities.
The build-up of dental plaque comes with its own set of risks, including:
- Increased incidence of cavities and tooth decay
- Gum diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis
If you have any other questions about bad breath or any other medical marijuana side effect, get in touch with a physician near you today who can provide you with all the information you need. Booking an appointment can be done in just four easy steps:
Step 1: Locate a medical marijuana doctor who is qualified near where you live.
Step 2: Get prequalified for medical marijuanavia our risk-free pre-qualification survey.
Step 3: Book your appointment easily online and review and access our quality network of marijuana doctors.
Step 4: Get your recommendation and gain access to the medicine you need as soon as possible to start feeling better.
Visit us online and get started with your pre-qualification today.