Most Dentists Have Seen Totally Blazed Patients Show Up to Appointments, Survey Says
Smoking a fat joint before visiting the dentist is apparently becoming so popular that the American Dental Association is asking people to stop.
Published on November 18, 2022

More than half of all dentists have seen patients show up for appointments while high on weed or other drugs, according to a new survey by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Earlier this year, the ADA conducted two online surveys seeking to get a better handle on how the growing trend of cannabis legalization is impacting overall dental health. In the first survey, the ADA asked 557 dentists whether or not they had seen patients arrive for appointments while high. More than half (52%) said that they had, and out of those, 56% said they had to limit treatments because their patients were too high.

In the second survey, the ADA asked 1,006 random adults whether or not they used cannabis, and if so, how they consumed it. More than a third (39%) of the respondents admitted to getting high, and most said they preferred smoking over all other methods of consumption. A quarter of the respondents also said that they vaped regularly, and out of those, 51% said that they vaped weed. 

“When talking through health histories, more patients tell me they use marijuana regularly because it is now legal,” said ADA spokesperson Dr. Tricia Quartey, who is also a dentist in New York, in a press release. “Unfortunately, sometimes having marijuana in your system results in needing an additional visit. Marijuana can lead to increased anxiety, paranoia and hyperactivity, which could make the visit more stressful. It can also increase heart rate and has unwanted respiratory side effects, which increases the risk of using local anesthetics for pain control.”

Several recent research studies have found that regular cannabis users require more anesthesia than those who do not partake. Researchers currently have no idea exactly why weed seems to reduce sensitivity to anesthetics, but many doctors are now recommending that patients stay sober before any major operation. The ADA survey also reports that dentists are running into the same issues: 46% said that they have had to increase anesthetic doses for patients who get high regularly.

For these reasons, the ADA is urging patients not to get stoned before they show up for a dental visit. The association also recommends that dentists actively discuss cannabis use with patients to help ensure proper anesthetics doses and avoid further health complications. Fortunately, 67% of patients said that they are perfectly comfortable discussing their cannabis use with dentists.

The ADA also cautions that regular cannabis smoking can have some negative impacts on overall dental health. Smoking weed may be a lot safer than smoking tobacco, but some studies suggest it can still increase the risk of mouth and neck cancers. Cottonmouth is also a serious concern, since dry mouth conditions have been linked to gum disease and other oral health issues. Studies also report that cannabis users often have more cavities than non-users, a phenomenon that the ADA believes might be caused by the munchies.

“The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, makes you hungry, and people don’t always make healthy food choices under its influence,” Dr. Quartey said. “Medically speaking, munchies are real.”

The munchies may be real, but more recent research suggests that cannabis users often make healthier food choices than the average non-user. Several recent studies have found that cannabis users are less likely to be obese, more likely to exercise, and are overall healthier than non-users. So that increased incidence of cavities may have more to do with dry mouth than the munchies, after all.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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