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Impact of Marijuana Use on Dental Care

With medical and/or recreational use of marijuana now legal in a growing number of states, it’s not surprising there has been an uptick in patients presenting for dental care under the influence. What may seem unlikely, however, is how common this practice may actually be. According to survey data from the American Dental Association (ADA), 52% of dentists report patients arriving for appointments while high on cannabis or other drugs.

The ADA suggests patients refrain from using marijuana before dental visits, noting it can limit the provision of care due to factors such as medicolegal questions concerning the ability to provide informed consent. Additionally, 56% of dentists surveyed said they had limited treatment to patients who were high, while 46% reported sometimes needing to increase anesthesia because of how marijuana and anesthesia impact the central nervous system. The information, which was gleaned from a poll of 557 dentists and a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 consumers, points to the need for additional research on marijuana and oral health. In the meantime, the ADA will continue to monitor the science to provide clinical recommendations for practitioners and patients.

The consumer poll also indicates that 67% of patients are comfortable talking to dental teams about cannabis—which underscores the importance of discussing marijuana use while reviewing health histories.

Dental professionals who are interested in learning more about treating cannabis users will find additional in articles such as “Impact of Cannabis Use on the Provision of Dental Care” and “Oral Health Strategies for Patients Who Use Medical Cannabis” outline helpful clinical practices when treating this patient population.

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