Dental Tribune Canada

Canadian dental hygienists start the cannabis conversation

By Dental Tribune Canada
January 10, 2019

Ottawa, ONTARIO, CANADA: With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, dental hygienists are urging everyone to think carefully before using cannabis because of the negative impact it can have on oral health.

“Cannabis use has many side effects that can alter the state of our mouths, teeth, and gums,” said Tracy Bowser, president of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA). “We know that cannabis reduces saliva, leading to dry mouth. And those famous ‘munchies’ increase the time that teeth are exposed to sugars. As a result, cannabis users have a higher risk of cavities, gum disease, and oral infections.”

As primary health care providers, dental hygienists work with patients to develop individualized oral care plans and can offer guidance on healthy food and lifestyle choices. Before beginning any hygiene treatment, dental hygienists are being encouraged to remind patients that cannabis use may increase bleeding and slow healing. Hygienists also will confirm that patients’ capacity to consent to care is not impaired.

“Dental hygienists want (patients) to enjoy optimal oral and overall health in 2019 and beyond, which is why they are ready to have the cannabis conversation,” Bowser said. Patients are being encouraged to schedule their next dental hygiene appointment to learn more about the impact of cannabis on oral health or visit www.dentalhygienecanada.ca/cannabis.

Serving the profession since 1963, CDHA is the collective national voice of more than 29,246 registered dental hygienists working in Canada, directly representing 19,000 individual members including dental hygienists and students. Dental hygiene is the sixth largest registered health profession in Canada with professionals working in a variety of settings, including independent dental hygiene practice, with people of all ages, addressing issues related to oral health.

As part of its effort to educate patients on the impacts of cannabis use on oral health, the association has a PDF, titled ‘Impaired in the Chair? Cannabis Use and Dental Hygiene Appointments.’ The PDF is available at www.dentalhygienecanada.ca/cannabis. For more information on oral health, visit www.dentalhygienecanada.ca.

(Source: Canadian Dental Hygienists Association)

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