Smoking Tobacco, Vaping & Cannabis:  How to Reduce Health and Dental Risks


The Canadian Dental Association (CDA), in a statement released in 2021, outlined the risks associated with smoking cigarettes, vaping, and smoking cannabis. The CDA acknowledged, however, that many individuals will likely continue to use despite health and dental health risks, especially as cannabis is becoming legal in more countries and provinces. 

So what can you do as a cigarette smoker, vaper, or cannabis smoker to stay healthy and free of dental issues? Let’s take a look at your options. 

Be Aware of the Associated Risks & Get a Really Good Dentist

The first step in combating the health and oral/dental risks associated with smoking tobacco and/or cannabis is to have a frank discussion with your dentist. Finding the best Ottawa dentist you can and letting them know may help them help you overcome the risks as well. 

Discussing the matter openly with your chosen dentist will give them the opportunity to offer harm reduction guidelines and advice for quitting, which can greatly benefit your health.

The CDA had this to say about the risks of the above-mentioned activities in regards to your health, both overall and specifically for your oral and dental health. 

Smoking: Cigarettes have by-products that can damage blood vessels and cause inflammation. This puts you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Thinking about dental issues, you can also develop a higher rate of tooth decay if you smoke. You can develop oral mucosal lesions (ulcers that can happen on the oral cavity’s mucous membranes) and increase your risk of getting periodontal disease, which eventually can lead to tooth loss.

Smoking can lead to cancer, lung and heart disease, and cause health problems for unborn children if the mother smokes, as well as lead to what can become long-term nicotine addiction.  

Vaping: According to the CDA, certain vaping liquids actually have a greater level of the addictive substance nicotine than other tobacco products. So, contrary to beliefs and promotion by some that vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking, that is actually not the case.

The long-term effects and oral health risks of vaping are largely unknown, but they may be similar to the risks posed by smoking cigarettes.

Cannabis: Legalized in Canada in October 2018, the government put heavy restrictions on recreational cannabis use at the same time. That may be because, like smoking cigarettes and vaping, smoking cannabis comes with health and dental health risks. 

Cannabis contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco and is often smoked in combination with cigarettes. So it is difficult to pinpoint precisely what health risks are associated with cannabis. However, according to the CDA, smoking cannabis may cause periodontal disease, dry mouth, leukoplakias (white spots in the mouth), and an increased risk of oral cancer. 

For a full list of health risks associated with smoking, vaping, and smoking cannabis, as well as the CDA’s official position, click here.