Going to Pot and the Dental Patient

What do I need to know about marijuana that I didn’t (formally) learn about in school?

Recorded Friday, October 7, 2016

Target Audience: This course is designed for specialists, dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants.

Credits: 2 hours

Tuition: $40/person

Course Description

Have you ever had to face the prospect of treating a medically-complex patient? Have you ever had a patient needing treatment for a dental emergency that has more than one underlying chronic disease or is on more than five medications? Now what if these same patients are also experimenting with illicit drugs? How does the use of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, crack, Salvia divinorum, khat bush, or designer drugs such as MDPV change your treatment plan?

Drug abuse remains a major problem in our society. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), between 2012 and 2014 an estimated 4.3 million (4.7%) adults aged 50 or older had used an illicit drug in the previous year. Moreover, the organization’s combined data from 2005 to 2014 showed that over 8.3 million children (11.9%) lived with at least one parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year. Among that population almost 2.1 million (3.0%) lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs.

If substance abuse and dependence affects one in ten North Americans, this means one in ten of your patients. With the approval of both medical and recreational marijuana in the Evergreen state, the number of users who now present to the dental office is rapidly escalating.

This program looks at some of these most challenging patients, their most common negative oral health sequelae due to marijuana use and the management of these patients with a particular focus on the dental realm. Case studies will augment the delivery of key points and a problem-based learning approach is encouraged so that each participant’s questions are addressed. Most importantly, you will learn applicable strategies to successfully treat these complex patients on Monday morning.

Course Objectives

As a result of attending this course, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the four main challenges of medically complex dental patients, the concept of risk and how to select and de-select appropriate patients.
  • Describe the risk factors to consider when treating patients who use marijuana.
  • Understand the medical evidence behind the safety and efficacy of cannabis.
  • Recognize some of the oral signs of marijuana use and how to better manage these patients.
  • Learn how to help make all of your appointments successful for you, your Team and your patients.


Mark Donaldson received his baccalaureate degree from the University of British Columbia, and his Doctorate in Clinical Pharmacy from the University of Washington. He has further completed a residency at Canada’s largest tertiary care facility, Vancouver General Hospital, and is the current Director of Clinical Pharmacy Performance Services for VHA, living in Whitefish, Montana. Dr. Donaldson is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Montana in Missoula, and Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Dentistry at the Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, Oregon. He has a special interest in dental pharmacology and has lectured internationally to both dental and medical practitioners. He has spent the last seventeen years focusing on dental pharmacology and the art of dental therapeutics, and has become a leader in this field of study. Dr. Donaldson has a number of published works in the peer-reviewed literature and spent three years in Japan focusing on cross-cultural communication and internationalization. He currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of the American Dental Association. He is board certified in healthcare management and is the past-President of the American College of Healthcare Executives’ Montana Chapter. Dr. Donaldson was named as the 2014 recipient of the Bowl of Hygeia for the state of Montana and is the 2016 recipient of the Dr. Thaddeus V. Weclew Award. This award is conferred upon an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the art and science of dentistry and/or enhanced the principles and ideals of the Academy of General Dentistry.


  • Dr. Donaldson has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.
  • The staff of the University of Washington Office of Continuing Dental Education have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.


Simply register online. You will be directed to UW CDE’s secure online registration. Register for “Going to Pot and the Dental Patient”. You will receive an emailed confirmation letter with instructions and links to both the slides and an online exam. After reading the slides, please take the exam. Once you have passed the exam, UW CDE will email you a certificate of completion in approximately one week. You will have until June 30th of the current CDE course year (September – June) to complete the training.

Cancellation Policy

You will have until June 30th (the end of the CDE course year) to complete your online training. If you do not complete the training by June 30th, you will have to sign up for the course again. No refunds will be given for online courses.

Washington State Dentists and Online Course Materials

Please note that per WAC 246-817-440-4bi, while there is no longer a limit to the number of hours Washington State dentists may take for continuing education provided online, please note that for pre-recorded or other forms of non-live presentations where there is not an instructor presenting in real-time and able to respond to questions in real-time, thirty minutes will count for every one hour completed for this type of activity.

For this course, although there are two hours of presentation, Washington State Dentists may only claim one hour of continuing dental education credit.

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The University of Washington is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider.
ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry.

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The University of Washington is a member of the Association for Continuing Dental Education.

University of Washington designates this activity for 2 continuing education credits total.