If you’re using marijuana, it’s important to let your dentist know. Smoking tobacco and smoking marijuana can damage our oral health. But – above and beyond that – anecdotal evidence suggests that having a tolerance for marijuana may affect how we respond 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),
- or has been legalized (10).
This increase in the availability of legal marijuana in the US comes with a potential increase in use. This 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 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.
This leads 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. Additional anesthesia may be necessary, leading medical practitioners to wonder how much that should cost patients.
Ultimately, more information is needed to determine the overall health and medical implications of marijuana use. The trouble is that research in this area is hard to come by. This is 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,” which also includes heroin and LSD.
Because of this limitation, health providers are left to monitor the impact of marijuana on anesthesia, lung health, tolerance to pain medications in their practices. When there is a gap in what professionals understand, there’s an even 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. For example, 40% of respondents think that cannabidiol (CBD) products sold are approved by the Food and Drug Administration when, in fact, only one prescription-exclusive solution actually is.
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.
In reality, a medical practitioner can provide better care for their patients if they are aware of their marijuana use including the dosage and frequency. This will lead them to better understand how it affects our health, educating both the patient and medical and dental professionals.