Study links cannabis use to increased gum disease risk

People who regularly use cannabis, such as marijuana, hashish and hashish oil, may have an increase risk of developing gum disease, according to a study featured in the October issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

The study compared participants who used cannabis at least once a month for a year to those who used it less regularly. Researchers said that those who used it regularly had, on average, more “pocket depths” around their teeth. Pocket depths measure the space between a tooth and surrounding gum tissue. They are critical indicators of gum disease.

The study found that those who used cannabis at least once a month were found to have, on average, 24.5 sites around the teeth that were at least eight millimeters of pocket depth. Those who use it less regularly had an average of 18.9 sites.

According to MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website, gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Warning signs of gum disease include gums that bleed easily, swollen and tender gums, and persistent bad breath or bad taste. Factors that increase the risk for developing gum disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking or chewing tobacco, genetics and diabetes. According to the Journal of Periodontology’s study, frequent use of cannabis can also be a factor.

At a time when the decriminalization medical and recreational use of cannabis is becoming more common in the United States, consumers should be made aware of the impact that any form of cannabis may have on the health of their gums, said Dr. Terrence J. Griffin, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, which publishes the Journal of Periodontology.

“There are a number of risk factors that contribute to the development of periodontal disease, and this report suggests that cannabis use may be one of them,” he said.

For more information on gum disease, visit MouthHealthy.org.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.

Keep your teeth clean with an oral health routine.

Establishing an oral health routine is important for a healthy mouth. Try one of our oral health products to help you establish a schedule.