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Dr. Crapo

It’s Harmless You Know


Question:

Dear Dr. Crapo: I’m sixteen years old. My parents get me to the dentist regularly. I’ve gone six times since I was fourteen. Every time I have lots of decay, so I have to go back to get my teeth fixed. The last time I went, he lectured me because of plaque on my teeth. It was my fault because I didn’t have time to brush before I went. Lately, I’ve been smoking pot about once a week, so I thought I’d ask him if there was a problem with it as far as teeth go. He said he thought there was no connection between decay and smoking marijuana but said it was bad for me. When I told him there was no chemical dependence problem with it, he just said then why are so many people using it so often. I told him that there are personality types that can get hooked but it’s not the same as alcohol. Is there a connection between decay and smoking pot or any other mouth disease? I don’t have to smoke it, but I’ve got friends and we’d like to know.


Answer:

When people say it’s not harmful, the fact is every cell in your body is affected. The research literature mentions many problems, especially those associated with the heart, lungs and immune system. In addition, oral cavity disease ranges from increased decay to premalignant (pre-cancer) lesions.

A number of years ago a handsome, bright, nineteen-year-old young man came to my office for a dental cleaning. He had beautiful teeth because his parents had seen him through braces and regular cleanings. He was cavity free and the rest of his mouth, picture perfect. I didn’t see him for a year but when he returned, he had four cavities and his gums bled easily. I asked him what had changed. He was non-committal and evasive. Another year and a half went by before I saw him again. This time there was gross disease. Teeth that were once perfect and whole were disintegrated and abscessed. When I looked at the treatment it was thousands of dollars. The young man, now jaded and angry – demanded his parents and I fix the problem.

Space does not allow more detail. He had become a heavy marijuana user. His personality had changed. He was not caring for himself. His mouth was extremely dry, resulting in rampant decay.

I know people of all ages who use marijuana and this is the worst case I’ve seen but let me say this – a $100 a week habit will lead to dry mouth, increased dental decay and a general loss of attention to personal health care.

Stay away from this “harmless” drug my young friend. Don’t let a substance make you indifferent to your wellbeing and self-esteem.

If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation.

Based on actual patient cases


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