With the legalization of marijuana in Oregon having arrived over a year ago, the number of Oregonians trying the habit continues to rise. Whether you regularly smoke, occasionally indulge in the habit or are thinking of trying it out, our Eugene dentists at North Eugene Family Dental think it important patients understand the risk smoking marijuana poses to their oral health.
While marijuana’s effects on short and long-term memory are what most studies around cannabis use mainly focus, a recent study has now called into question the impact recreational smoking may have on an individual’s oral health.
Researchers have discovered that frequent recreational cannabis use – including hash, hash oil and marijuana – may be linked to an increased risk of periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease. The study found that individuals who used cannabis at least once a month for a year showed increased indicators of mild, moderate and severe periodontal disease when compared to those who used cannabis less frequently.
The results of this latest study were published in the Journal of Periodontology.
A Link to Gum Disease
In the study, participants who identified themselves as regular users of recreational cannabis were found to have an average of 29.3 sites around their teeth with periodontal pocket depths of greater than or equal to four millimeters; 24.8 sites with pocket depth of greater than or equal to six millimeters; and 24.5 sites with at least eight millimeters of pocket depth. Study participants who reported to use cannabis less frequently had an average of 22.3, 19.3 and 18.9 sites respectively.
Pocket depths ranks as a vital indicator of periodontal disease, measuring the space between a tooth and surrounding gum tissue. Healthy attachment of gum tissue, which should sit securely along the base of a tooth, measures between one to three millimeters in depth. Measurements of pocket depth that serve to indicate the potential for gum disease can range between three to five millimeter (mild periodontal disease) to more than seven millimeters (severe periodontal disease).
Researchers believe that with recreational cannabis use becoming common as more states adopt legislation legalizing its use, it’s important that users understand the impact that any form of cannabis can have on the health of their gums. While a number of risk factors increase the likelihood an individual with develop gum disease, the results of this latest study suggest that cannabis use may be one of them. Considering the gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of developing a range of chronic illnesses that include periodontal disease, stroke, dementia and cancer, it’s vital cannabis users work to maintain and improve their oral health by brushing and flossing daily and by scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings with our Eugene dentists.
Understanding Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease develops due to an inflammatory reaction to a bacterial infection that has formed below the gum line. The disease can cause a variety of symptoms, including irritation, swelling, bleeding and tooth loss when left untreated.
To successfully lower your risk of periodontal disease, it’s important that you minimize risk factors such as smoking, eating an unbalanced diet and practicing poor oral hygiene. The American Association of Periodontology recommends daily flossing, brushing for at least two minutes a time, twice a day, and receiving yearly comprehensive periodontal evaluations. Fortunately, when treated early on, the effects of periodontal disease are reversible.
Know your risk and know your risk factors for periodontal disease and you can successfully enjoy a healthy, great looking smile for a lifetime.