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Why Does Marijuana Cause Dry Mouth?

Why Does Marijuana Cause Dry Mouth?

According to the National Institutes of Health, people have used marijuana (cannabis) as a safe or effective treatment of any medical condition for at least 3,000 years. Legalization of marijuana for medical use or adult recreational use is growing in number in some states or countries. At the other end of the spectrum, studies also found negative associations between marijuana use and health. One of the most common side effects of marijuana use is dry mouth.

Dry mouth, clinically termed as Xerostomia, is a condition wherein the normal salivary flow is being interrupted. Marijuana causes dry mouth by blocking salivary glands to produce saliva.

The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana inhibits all sorts of parasympathetic responses in the nervous system, including the salivary glands which is responsible for saliva production.

Other factors that may cause dry mouth includes dehydration, mouth breathing during sleep, diabetes, head and neck radiation therapy, and as side effects of certain drugs and medications.

HOW MARIJUANA INHIBITS SALIVA PRODUCTION

CB1 and CB2 are cannabinoid receptors located in the submandibular glands. These glands are found beneath the bottom of the mouth and are responsible for  production of saliva. When the THC binds to these receptors, transmission of signal from the parasympathetic nervous system to the submandibular glands to produce saliva is inhibited. Therefore resulting to reduction of saliva production. 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DRY MOUTH

You may experience the following sign and symptoms if you are suffering from dry mouth.

  • Tooth decay
  • Fungal infections/White film on the tongue (also known as oral thrush)
  • Rough dry tongue
  • sialadenitis, a salivary gland infection
  • Bad breath
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Thick or stringy saliva
  • Problems with swallowing and chewing, especially dry and crumbly foods, such as crackers or cereals
  • Difficulty wearing dentures, problems with denture retention, denture sores, and the tongue sticking to the palate
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Dry, sore, and cracked lips in the corners of the mouth
  • problems speaking
  • dysgeusia, or taste disorders
  • glossodynia, or a painful tongue
  • Dehydration

HOW TO TREAT DRY MOUTH

While having a dry mouth can be unpleasant, there are some remedies and preventive measures that can help reduce the symptoms.

  • Constantly sipping water throughout the day is a good way to keep your mouth hydrated.
  • Unlike degenerative salivary glands disorder, marijuana-induced dry mouth goes away when you stop using marijuana.
  • Avoid using alcohol containing mouthwash, alcohol worsens dry mouth
  • If you continue to use marijuana, manage your dry mouth properly to prevent dental problems and bad breath. Refrain intake of sugary beverages.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or lozenges. Chewing gum promotes saliva production.
  • Drinking alcohol, coffee, and tea should also be avoided. Stick with plain water.

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