Marijuana and Oral Health

13% of American adults use marijuana regularly for either medical treatment or recreational use. This is almost twice the number (7%) of adults using marijuana in 2013. Cannabis can be used in three ways: (1) smoking/inhalation, (2) drying it into a plant resin and baking it into foods, and (3) applying it topically in creams and ointments that contain THC.marijuana cigarette - paid - shutterstock 650375488

Marijuana use often has psychological and physiological effects. Our concern today is with the effects of marijuana on oral health. These effects include:

  1. dry mouth (xerostomia). Many scientists believe the marijuana associated effect is due to all or any forms of the drug and not only with smoking the drug. Xerostomia can cause a drying out of the tissue of the mouth, which significantly reduces the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Regular cannabis users have a significantly higher number of caries than people who do not use the drug.
  2. Regular cannabis use can increase the risk for periodontal disease.
  3. Because cannabis contains particular carcinogens, like tobacco. Long-term use of cannabis has been associated is some studies with chronic inflammation of mucosa and gingival enlargement. It is unclear, however, if this effect is caused by the inhaled smoke or by the cannabis itself.
  4. Several other abnormalities are associated with marijuana use, including erythroplakia, keratosis, leukoplakia. These abnormalities can, in some cases, develop into neoplasias. They should be monitored regularly and continually.

Your dentist needs to know if you use marijuana frequently. With this knowledge we can monitor your oral health more carefully and frequently. Finally, cannabis has immunosuppressive properties that are related to the human papillomavirus. The increased cancer risk in those with HPV could lead to increased risk of cancers of the head and neck. These connections are still under analysis, however.

People do not enter dentistry in order to pry into people’s secrets and sit in judgment of them. We enter the profession because we care about people, and we want to help people protect and improve their oral and general health. Nor do we enter this profession to sit in judgment of others.

When you come to Complete Dental Care of Salem, VA, you will be met with patience and understanding. We expect you to tell us if you use cannabis regularly so that we can provide you with the best possible dental care. We do not judge our patients. If you are a regular cannabis user, please come in and talk with us about the potential risks of using marijuana. Then, let’s create a workable plan to care for your oral and general health.

Smiles Go More Than Skin Deep

Smiles have amazing power in our lives. More than a factor in our appearance, our smiles have profound influence on our minds and on the minds of others. Understanding the amazing power of our smiles, it is no surprise that most of us do all that we can to protect our smiles. Here are some of the reasons Smiles go more than skin deep.

  1. Smiling makes us more dreamstimefree -  sm 6338071
  2. Smiling makes us look younger.
  3. Smiling reduces stress.
  4. Smiling sends the messages to your brain that elevate your mood.
  5. Smiling boosts your immune system.
  6. Smiling is contagious.
  7. Smiling lowers your blood pressure.
  8. A smile makes you seem more confident and more successful.
  9. Smiling helps you maintain a positive attitude.
  10. Smiling makes you feel better.
  11. Smiling makes us appear more likable and thus helps us build better relationships.
  12. People who smile a lot live longer.
  13. Smiling and laughing reduce pain.
  14. Smiling makes you seem more trustworthy.
  15. Smiling boosts productivity.
  16. Smiling makes you more creative.

Take good care of your teeth and keep smiling. We’re here to help you protect your smile and care for your oral health.

What Are Lie Bumps?

“Lie bumps” is a common name for transient lingual papillitis. The common name derives from a superstitious belief that telling a lie causes these bumps to appear on your tongue. The name is still used even though we know this is not the real cause. These bumps are typically small, red or white, and may be painful or uncomfortable. They appear suddenly and generally disappear in a few days. In most cases, no treatment is necessary. If these bumps appear anatomy of human tongue - paid - Depositphotos 95368080 s-2015alongside other symptoms, you might have “eruptive lingual papillitis," which is caused by a virus. They are most commonly found in children. If they persist for more than a week, it is wise to see your dentist or doctor. If these bumps recur in children, it is wise to see their pediatrician.

Transient Lingual Papillitis vs. Eruptive Lingual Papillitis: The bumps that appear on the tongue in either of these conditions look alike. Eruptive lingual papillitis differs in several ways”

  • It can last as long as two weeks.
  • It may be caused by a virus.
  • It is contagious.
  • It may cause swollen glands.
  • It may be accompanied by fever.
  • It is more common in children.

CAUSE: Scientific research has not been able to identify or document a definite cause of lie bumps. A number of possible causes have been advanced, including: stress, gastrointestinal upset, menstruation, acidic food, sour food, food allergies, spicy food, smoking, and local trauma (e.g., biting or burning the tongue). They are often caused by the taste buds splitting.

TREATMENT: Lie bumps typically require no treatment. To manage the symptoms, you might try:

  • Avoid acidic, sour, or spicy food.
  • Rinse the mouth with salt water.
  • Brush after every meal.
  • Use mouthwash to reduce bacteria in the mouth.
  • Use an over-the-counter topical treatment (e.g., Zilactin)

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR: There are several types of bumps that can appear on your tongue, each with its own cause. If you have bumps that are not caused by transient lingual papillitis (lie bumps) or eruptive lingual papillitis, you should see your dentist or doctor. Other bumps might be caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), canker sores, syphilis, scarlet fever, oral cancer, traumatic fibroma, or lymphoepithelial cysts.

What is Strawberry Tongue?

What is Strawberry Tongue? What do I need to know and do? My dentist told me I have strawberry tongue and referred me to my primary care physician.

Strawberry Tongue causes your tongue to be swollen, red, and the bumps on your tongue will be very pronounced. It can also have white spots. The name is derived from the fact that it makes your tongue look like a strawberry or a raspberry, and may be painful. The swelling may make it difficult to eat or cause you to bite your tongue.  strawberry tongue - paid - shutterstock 1133467589

Strawberry tongue is often assumed to be a dental or oral health issue. It is a symptom of one of several diseases. It should be treated immediately by your primary care physician because some of the underlying diseases can be serious.

Underlying Conditions

Among the most common causes of strawberry tongue are the following conditions.

  1. Food or medication allergy. In these cases, the reaction to the allergen causes your tongue to become inflamed and swollen. Typically, antihistamines will be prescribed to control and reduce the allergic reaction. If the allergic reaction is serious – anaphylaxis – it may be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling of the throat or face, difficulty breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure. Anaphylactic shock can cause problems with breathing and with the circulatory system. Untreated, it can be fatal.
  2. Kawasaki Disease. Kawasaki disease typically occurs in children. It causes particular arteries to become inflamed and swell. Other symptoms of Kawasaki Disease include: high fever, skin rash, red eyes, peeling skin. Without treatment, it can cause a coronary artery aneurysm or other heart problems.
  3. Scarlet Fever. When a bacterial infection develops in someone with strep throat, it can cause scarlet fever. The disease most often affects children between the ages of 5 and 15. Other symptoms of scarlet fever include: red rash covering much of the body, high fever, bright red areas in the folds of the skin, headache, sore throat, flushing of the face over the cheeks. Without treatment scarlet fever can cause a person to develop rheumatic fever, kidney disease, skin infection, serious infection of the middle ear, abscesses, or lung infection.
  4. Toxic Shock Syndrome. Toxic Shock Syndrome has been connected with nasal gauze packing and with use of tampons. It is most commonly caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus or the same species of group bacteria A Streptococcus. The latter causes Scarlet Fever. The tampon creates a host for growth of the bacteria. In addition to strawberry tongue, Toxic Shock Syndrome can cause other symptoms, including: high fever, headache, aches and pains, sore throat, nausea, vomiting diarrhea. Toxic Shock Syndrome should be treated immediately. Without proper treatment, it can be life-threatening if it affects vital organs.
  5. Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Strawberry tongue can also indicate the vitamin deficiency. It will typically be accompanied by other symptoms, including: weakness, tiredness, numbness or tingling, memory problems, balance issues, or glossitis. It is treated easily with high doses of Vitamin B12.

Strawberry tongue, as the name implies, causes your tongue to resemble a strawberry (red and swollen with bumps). Alone, it is not an illness. Instead, it is a symptom of underlying diseases. It is not a dental or oral health issue. Some of these diseases are quite serious and can be fatal. However, all of these diseases can be treated effectively by your primary care physician.

Alarming Teen E-Cigarette Use

We recently shared with you some information about the decline in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults. In that post we observed that teen use of tobacco products was escalating.

The increase in teen use of e-cigarettes is alarming. In data released this month (much earlier than expected) teen vaping - sm - pexels-photo-338710documents a staggering increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes among teens in America. Data released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that the use of e-cigarettes has reached epidemic proportions. In 2018 more than 20 percent of American high school students reported using e-cigarettes regularly. This is almost twice as many teens as in 2017.

The new insights are based on responses to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a combined effort of the FDA and the CDC. The findings include:

  • From 2017 to 2018, use of tobacco of any kind among high school students rose 38 percent; 29 percent among middle school students
  • This increase in use of tobacco products was attributed to a “dramatic” rise in e-cigarette use over the last year.
  • In 2017, 2 million high school students used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. In 2018, the number had risen to 3 million. (Compare to 220,000 students

in 2011).

Equally alarming is the fact that these teens are using e-cigarettes more often. Nearly 30 percent of the high school students who reported use of e-cigarettes said that they had been vaping with an e-cigarette at least 20 of the last 30 days. Particularly popular among teens are the small e-cigarettes that resemble a USB flash drive. These devices contain very high amounts of nicotine and are most popular in fruit and candy flavors.

The flavors are significant. For many teens, the flavor was the initial draw to trying e-cigarettes. These flavors then increase the likelihood that those who try the e-cigarettes will graduate to regular use of the products.

Use of these e-cigarettes can be highly addictive (due to the amount of nicotine they contain). They also carry the risk of harm to breathing and to oral health. Many experts are concerned that the progression from e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco products will be a small step. That step would subject a new generation of Americans to the harmful effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

We can expect to see programs coming from the FDA and the CDC to attempt to curb this rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes. The carcinogenic properties of tobacco will bring more cases of tobacco-related cancer, heart disease, lung disease, oral health issues, and more to this new generation. Society will continue to be saddled with the ever-rising cost (human and financial) of these diseases.


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