Chronic Marijuana use and Gum Disease

Most people are aware of the reported physical and psychological problems associated with chronic marijuana use, but many haven’t stopped to consider the connection between cannabis and increased risk of gum disease.

If left untreated, gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can cause inflammation and deterioration of the bones around the teeth, eventually leading to swelling, bleeding gums and eventual loss of teeth.

The Studies

The risks have come to the forefront following a long-term study involving more than 1,000 New Zealanders who were asked to self-report their health status every few years. Participants who smoked marijuana regularly were 55 percent more likely to display signs of gum disease by their early thirties, compared to only about 13 percent of non-users.

A similar study conducted at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2017 netted similar results. The study asked nearly 2,000 people about their use of cannabis, and then followed up with a dental examination.

Researchers found that participants who used marijuana, hash or hash oil at least once during the past month had larger spaces between the teeth and other signs of periodontal disease more often than non-smokers (including tobacco users).

Cigarette smoking is already strongly implicated in gum disease, so researchers aren’t surprised that chronic marijuana smoking nets similar results; however, they aren’t sure why.

Some reason that placing hot objects near the teeth heats the gums and causes inflammation. Others blame the proclivity of chronic marijuana users to be less than completely honest when reporting the quality of their dental hygiene. An increase in appetite (known as “the munchies,”) is partly to blame.

See your dentist if you’re concerned, as periodontal disease is reversible if treated in the early stages. If you’re a regular marijuana smoker (or even if you aren’t), brush and floss at least twice a day to remove bacteria trapped between the teeth and gums.

It may also help to rinse your mouth regularly with a mouthwash which helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Rehab for Cannabis Addiction

Don’t hesitate to discuss any dental health concerns with your dentist, and be sure to schedule bi-yearly dental exams. Most dentists truly want to help with problems and aren’t in the business of judgment or criticism.

Consider cannabis addiction treatment if you’re concerned that your use of marijuana is getting out of control.

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