Marijuana Use May Increase Risk For Periodontal Disease

added on: June 7, 2017

Cannabis or medical marijuana has been said to be a beneficial treatment for pain, seizures and spasms. As its use widens, researchers are finding new ways to utilize this now-legal substance in appropriately prescribed doses.

While there is a debate as to side effects of its use, many researchers feel there is too little data along those lines. For instance, insufficient data exists regarding some claims that cannabis exposure in children and adolescents may cause impaired brain development or lead to mental illness.

However, there are a number of studies showing undesirable side effects when it comes to the oral health of frequent marijuana users. In one, as part of the Centers for Disease Control’s 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, study participants who used cannabis one or more times for at least 12 months had more symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease than other participants. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170524152634.htm)

This increased propensity for gum disease has also been shown in a long-term study of nearly 1,000 New Zealanders. In that study, people who smoked marijuana for up to 20 years had more gum disease even though other health factors were no worse than those of non-smokers.

For decades, it has been known that the harmful chemicals of cigarette smoke were toxic to the soft tissues of the mouth. A study is also underway to determine the risk factors of e-cigs, or vaping, which users claim is a safer method of smoking. However, the argument has been that chemicals are easily absorbed by the moist tissues in the mouth and, therefore, the potential for detrimental side effects is greater.

Regardless of your use or non-use of cannabis, it is wise to know the signs and symptoms of gum disease. These include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, receded gums, gums that darken in color from a healthy pink to red, persistent bad breath, and pus pockets that form on gums at the base of some teeth.

Not only is gum disease the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, the bacteria of periodontal disease has been linked to serious health problems. It has been shown that the infectious bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body.

The inflammatory triggers associated with gum disease bacteria have been linked to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, preterm babies, some cancers, impotency, diabetes and arthritis. As more research is being conducted, a growing number of health problems are showing links to this potent bacteria.

If you have symptoms of gum disease, seek treatment at your earliest convenience. Gum disease only worsens without treatment, resulting in more treatment time and expense. Call 586-739-2155 to schedule.