In the last decade, 21 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use. Nevada is one of the states where marijuana use is legal for recreational use. As a result, recreational marijuana use is increasing across the country. After a poll revealed that more than half of dentists said they had patients who showed up high to appointments, the American Dental Association felt it had to issue a statement noting that marijuana use can affect dental treatment.

We understand that some people might see marijuana as a good way to relax before a dental appointment. However, Las Vegas sedation dentist Dr. James Polley wants to make sure his patients get an effective relaxation method to combat their anxiety. Here’s why marijuana is not the best relaxation tool for dental anxiety. 

marijuana spilling out of a bottle

Uncertain Dosage

Dosage is one of the biggest challenges in any attempt at self-medicating, whether that’s with alcohol, marijuana, or some other drug. How much marijuana do you need to smoke, vape, or consume to achieve your desired state of relaxation? You might think you know, but there are many variables that make this hard to get right, including uncertain strength in the cannabis you are smoking or the THC concentration in edibles. While there are efforts at standardization, some studies show that as little as 9% of products may be accurately labeled

Las Vegas sedation dentist Dr. Polley is highly trained in sedation dentistry. He knows how to accurately dose patients using reliably measured medications. This makes it more likely that you will actually feel relaxed at your dental appointment without experiencing negative side effects. 

Interferes with Anesthesia

One big problem with trying to use marijuana for your dental anxiety is that it can interfere with dental anesthesia. People under the influence of marijuana sometimes need more local anesthesia to get numb for dental treatment. This doesn’t just mean larger doses; it can come with increased risk because it can lead to difficulty breathing. In general, local anesthesia is safe, but rare complications become more likely with higher dosages and other chemicals in your system. 

If the pain of dental treatment contributes to your dental anxiety, this makes marijuana a bad choice before your dental appointment. 

On the other hand, sedation dentistry works well with anesthesia. It doesn’t interfere with the anesthesia and may even offer some pain relief of its own. 

Anxiety and Other Side Effects

Although many people use marijuana to control anxiety, it can potentially cause anxiety. Anxiety, paranoia, elevated heart rate, and other effects can lead to a worse dental experience overall. These are also some of the ways that marijuana interferes with local anesthesia. 

If you are looking to overcome dental anxiety, sedation dentistry makes a better choice because it doesn’t have these side effects. 

You Might Get Turned Away

At our Las Vegas dental office, we have a responsibility to only provide dental care when we believe it is safe to do so. If you are clearly under the influence of marijuana to the extent that we are concerned about potential complications or behavioral issues, we might have to reschedule your appointment for another time. This is less likely for a simple dental checkup. However, any procedure planned using anesthesia and/or sedation is more likely to be postponed.  

Bad for Dental Health

In addition to all the problems associated with using marijuana before your appointment, you should also be aware that marijuana can negatively affect your oral health. Similar to cigarette smoking, marijuana use can dry out your mouth, increasing your risk of gum disease and cavities. 

In addition, marijuana can increase your hunger, encouraging you to snack more freely. Frequent snacking, especially on food full of sugar and other refined carbohydrates, can increase your risk of developing cavities.

Let’s Talk about Marijuana and Oral Health

Las Vegas sedation dentist Dr. Polley cares about his patients’ health and frequently discusses lifestyle choices that impact their oral health. If you are a marijuana user, it’s good to mention it at your next regular checkup. That way, we can incorporate it into our plan for your dental care. We’ll know to look for related health effects. Then, if we see cause for alarm developing, we might bring it up and recommend ways to potentially counter it. Preventive treatments like CariFree can help you enjoy your chosen lifestyle while protecting your oral health. 

Get Sedation Dentistry in Las Vegas

Do you have significant dental anxiety that makes it hard to get the dental care you need or the cosmetic dentistry you want? Safe and effective sedation dentistry can help you overcome your anxiety to receive high-quality dental care. Las Vegas sedation dentist Dr. James Polley can supply accurate dosing to ensure you are safely relaxed at your dental appointment. 

To learn more about the benefits of dental sedation, please call (702) 873-0324 or use our online form to request an appointment at the dental office of Dr. James B. Polley, located in the north Las Vegas area, near the Summerlin library.