Study Confirms Link Between Marijuana and Gum Disease

According to a recent WebMD news article, individuals who smoke marijuana regularly may be setting themselves up for gum disease.

“It is well known that frequent tobacco use can increase the risk of periodontal [gum] disease, but it was surprising to see that recreational cannabis [pot] users may also be at risk,” said Jaffer Shariff, a postdoctoral resident in periodontology at Columbia University School of Dental Medicine. He is also the lead author on a study recently published in the Journal of Periodontology supporting this claim.

Shariff’s team analyzed data collected from approximately 2,000 Americans, of which 27% reported the use of cannabis (marijuana, hashish or hash oil) one or more times for at least 12 months. The researchers found that frequent recreational cannabis users were more likely to have signs of moderate to severe gum disease than non-smoking counterparts.

“The recent spate of new recreational and medical marijuana laws could spell the beginning of a growing oral public health problem,” Shariff stated in a university news release. “Even controlling for other factors linked to gum disease, such as cigarette smoking, frequent recreational cannabis smokers are twice as likely as non-freqent users to have signs of periodontal disease.”

It is important to note that the association found in the study doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but it does mean that dentists should be talking to their patients about their pot smoking habits.

“At a time when the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana is increasing its use in the United States, users should be made aware of the impact that any form of cannabis can have on the health of their gums,” said Terrence Griffin, president of the American Academy of Periodontology.

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