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.

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