Dentists Warn Against Pre-Visit Cannabis Consumption

Whether you are into recreational marijuana or are a strict medical cannabis user, how do you feel about consuming the drug prior to visiting the dentist? Apparently, American dentists are seeing an increase in the number of patients who come to the visits high. They are now warning patients that this is a dangerous practice.

Given that the majority of medical cannabis patients use the drug as a treatment for chronic pain, it is not surprising that so many would consume prior to visiting the dentist. Dental visits are often associated with pain and discomfort. If cannabis helps your back feel better, wouldn’t it also help your mouth feel better?

A Pretty Significant Problem

A recent American Dental Association (ADA) survey among members shows just how significant the problem is. The survey revealed that 50% report having been forced to treat patients who came to their visits high. In many cases, the drug of choice was marijuana.

As for how many cannabis-consuming patients each of the dentists have had to treat, it’s unclear. But the fact that half of them report having to do so routinely says something.

The survey also suggests the possibility that pre-visit cannabis consumption stresses some patients out to the point where dentists need to limit their treatments. It is just not safe to provide full treatment while a patient is high, if for no other reason than being under the influence makes it impossible to give informed consent.

Cannabis May Be Counterproductive

The interesting thing about consuming cannabis prior to a dental appointment is the possibility that doing so could actually be counterproductive. The ADA cites research that suggests cannabis might make dental patients more sensitive to pain in the short term.

When that is the case, dentists need to use more anesthesia to keep patients comfortable during their procedures. This is not something that makes dentists too comfortable. They prefer to use as little anesthesia as possible.

What Patients Are Saying

The ADA’s survey was initially sent out to 557 dentists in the U.S. They followed up with a survey polling just over 1,000 patients. The second survey revealed that 40% of dental patients admitted to using marijuana. Whether that means they consumed just prior to their dental visits is another question entirely.

In a patient’s defense, there are legitimate reasons for some medical cannabis patients to consume just prior to visiting the dentist. According to Utah Marijuana, an organization that helps patients obtain medical cannabis cards in Utah, patients may be on a very strict regimen as they seek to manage chronic pain. That regimen may call for consumption shortly before a dental visit.

Another potential scenario involves a patient diagnosed with PTSD. Although it sounds strange, the stress of a dental appointment can trigger PTSD symptoms. As such, a patient with a valid medical cannabis card may choose to medicate prior to a dental visit in order to limit symptoms.

Don’t Do It Recreationally

Legitimate medical purposes aside, it is probably best to avoid recreational cannabis consumption prior to dental visits. Neither you nor your dentist need the extra stress that may result from being high. But more importantly, you need to be able to give informed consent to any procedure your dentist proposes.

There is a time for cannabis consumption. That time isn’t just before dental visit. Your dentist needs you sitting in the chair with a clear head and as little anxiety as possible. Do yourself and your dentist a favor and save the cannabis until after your visit. Visiting you dentist sober isn’t the end of the world. You will make it through.

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