Cannabis Use and Oral Health Behaviors: A Nationally Representative Study of U.S. Adults aged 30-59.




Balasundaram, Rohit Baal
Rossheim, Mathew
Boateng, Sarpong
Akpan, Idara
Nguyen, Uyen-Sa


0000-0001-5454-0086 (Balasundaram, Rohit Baal)

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Purpose: Given that individuals who use cannabis may exhibit distinct oral health behaviors, including irregular dental visits, reduced adherence to oral hygiene practices such as flossing, and potentially increased tobacco and alcohol use, this research seeks to compare these behaviors with those of non-users. By highlighting these differences and understanding their impact on oral health, the study aims to inform targeted public health interventions, guide healthcare providers in offering tailored advice, and contribute to the development of policies that address the unique oral health challenges faced by cannabis users. This study aimed to explore the association between cannabis use and oral health behaviors among U.S. adults aged 30-59.

Methods: We analyzed secondary data using the 2011-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 9345). Self-reported cannabis use was categorized as never (reference), experimental (used at least once in their lifetime), or regular (monthly use for more than one year). Outcomes included dental visit reasons (Routine Checkup (ref), Issues & Treatment, Other reasons), flossing frequency (=<3 vs. > 3 times a week), and oral cancer examination in the past year (Yes vs No). Associations between cannabis use and dental health outcomes were examined via multinomial logistic regression for dental visit reasons and binary logistic regression for flossing frequency and oral cancer exam participation. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race, education, income, marital status, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol use.

Results: Analysis revealed that individuals who used cannabis experimentally had elevated odds of receiving an oral cancer examination compared to never users (aOR=1.5, 95% CI: 1.1-1.9). Among individuals who used cannabis regularly, there was an observed increase in the odds of flossing more than three times a week (aOR=1.1, 95% CI: 0.9-1.3), although this association was not statistically significant. Furthermore, individuals who used cannabis regularly were more likely to report dental visits for issues and treatment rather than routine check-ups when compared to never users (aOR=1.3, 95% CI: 1.0-1.7)

Conclusion: Study findings suggest that cannabis use is associated with certain oral health behaviors. This research highlights the need for targeted investigations to inform public health strategies for improving oral health outcomes among people who use cannabis. Furthermore, these insights underscore the importance of integrating oral health education and preventive measures into cannabis use counseling to improve oral health outcomes and promote overall well-being among cannabis users.