With changing legislation and the evolving laws regarding the use of marijuana, an increasing number of people are starting to legally try the infamous herb. Marijuana is most commonly inhaled as smoke but is also available in various forms such as concentrated oils, edible snacks, and topical ointments. Depending on how you consume cannabis, there could be adverse effects on your oral health if you are not careful. But, can marijuana cause you to grind your teeth?
Bruxism is the medical term used for the clenching of the jaw or grinding of teeth. Teeth clenching occurs when the top and bottom teeth clench together. Grinding happens when the teeth move back-and-forth or horizontally while the teeth are clenched. Clenching your teeth puts pressure on the tissues, muscles, and other structures around the jaw. This can result in uncomfortable jaw pain, headaches, ear pain, and even permanent teeth damage.
We are all likely to have episodes of teeth grinding at some stage in our lives. But, ongoing bruxism affects an estimated one in ten people. Teeth aren’t designed to be in constant contact. They may briefly touch when you swallow or chew, but if they are in contact too often, serious problems could arise.
For years, dentists have been researching the effects of smoking marijuana on oral health based on anecdotal evidence from patients. Currently, studies looking specifically at the connection between marijuana use and teeth grinding is very limited. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that rather than being the cause of bruxism, cannabis could help alleviate many of its symptoms.
What Is the Cause of Teeth Grinding?
Teeth clenching and grinding occur naturally when eating, but some individuals may also grind or clench involuntarily and excessively throughout the day and/or night. There are two types of teeth grinders. We get those who clench and grind while awake and those who do it when they are asleep.
Grinding the teeth while awake is especially common during times of stress, concentration, or anger, and typically occurs without the person being aware of it. Bruxism during sleep is usually a bigger problem because it’s harder to control.
The exact causes of bruxism are unclear, but doctors suspect that a mix of psychological, physical, and genetic factors are to blame. Certain risk factors have been identified as possible triggers. For instance, Type A personalities and people experiencing high levels of stress are more likely to grind their teeth.
Furthermore, some medical conditions and medications can increase a person’s risk of developing bruxism. Also, having relatives who struggle with this condition can increase a person’s risk of battling bruxism.
Although bruxism is not fully understood, daily stress is believed to be a common trigger. But some people who grind their teeth may never even feel any symptoms. Here is a list of factors that could influence the severity of your condition:
- How much stress you are under
- Whether your teeth are misaligned
- Your ability to relax
- Your posture
- How tightly and long you grind and clench
- Your diet
Current Treatments for Teeth Grinding and Their Side Effects
Bruxism is not a dangerous condition, but it may cause several unwanted side effects like headaches and migraines, a sore neck, painful facial or jaw joints, reduced oral function, and enlarged jaw muscles.
If you suffer from bruxism, your dentist may recommend one of the following methods for preserving and improving your teeth:
- Mouthguards and Splints: These separate the teeth to prevent damage caused by grinding and clenching. They’re made of hard acrylic or soft material and fit over the upper or lower teeth.
- Dental Correction: If you have tooth damage that has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly, the dentist may use crowns or reshape the teeth’ chewing surface to repair the damage.
Medications may also be prescribed in the treatment of bruxism. However, generally, medications aren’t all that effective and come with a few adverse side effects. But here are a few useful ones:
- Botox Injections: Botox is used in very small amounts to paralyze muscles. Therefore, it can be helpful in relaxing the jaw muscles and reducing pain. Possible side effects of botox include drowsiness, dizziness, bleeding, bruising or swelling, muscle stiffness or muscle weakness, headache, or back and neck pain.
- Muscle Relaxants: Often used before bed to help relax the jaw muscles. Possible side effects of muscle relaxants include dry throat or mouth, blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, diarrhea, and gas.
- Antidepressants: You may be prescribed anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants to help control mood disorders or emotional issues that could be causing you to grind your teeth. Possible side effects of antidepressants include nausea, insomnia, blurred vision, weight gain, fatigue, and more.
How Marijuana May Help to Prevent the Grinding of Teeth
According to anecdotal evidence, marijuana could be helpful in relieving many of the symptoms linked to bruxism without having any dangerous side effects.
Since stress is believed to be a main cause of bruxism, marijuana could be a good alternative treatment because it has the following properties; anti-anxiety, antidepressant, anti-stress, muscle relaxing, and it’s an alleviator of sleep disorders.
Cannabinoids found in marijuana can help to reduce motor activity. This means that medical marijuana can be used in the treatment of bruxism to help patients regain control over their jaw muscles, stopping the clenching and grinding.
Marijuana can also help with muscle relaxation and may alleviate sleep disorders. Cannabis can help people to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer. Moreover, it can also reduce inflammation and pain, which can be very beneficial when trying to manage jaw pain and headaches linked to teeth grinding.
Here is an overview of how medical marijuana may benefit those who grind their teeth:
- Since medical marijuana may aid in the management of anxiety, it may help patients whose clenching and grinding motions are triggered by stress by helping them to manage their tension and anxiety.
- Marijuana’s capacity for reducing inflammation, relaxing tense muscles, and halting spasms could help ease the strain on the jaw muscles.
- Medical marijuana is thought to aid those who suffer from chronic pain by calming pain receptors, meaning it could combat the sensitivity and discomfort associated with teeth grinding.
- Good sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle, and bruxism is known to interfere with sleep. Research indicates that medical marijuana may help people sleep better.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana and Teeth Grinding
While marijuana could have an adverse effect on your overall oral health, there is no evidence to suggest that it causes users to grind their teeth. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that it could help to prevent or minimize the effects of teeth grinding.
While bruxism is not a dangerous condition, it can lead to some serious health issues. If you are someone who grinds or clenches their teeth, it’s important to speak to a professional to determine your best treatment option.