Menu
Menu
Find a Doctor
High Times and Oral Health - Marijuana Linked to Gum Disease

High Times and Oral Health - Marijuana Linked to Gum Disease

updated

A new warning for marijuana smokers has come in from an international team of researchers: brush your teeth. Apparently, smoking the wacky tobacky increases a person's chances of developing gum disease. Researchers in the study said they suspected that marijuana was a risk factor for gum disease but were surprised to find such a strong link between the two.

The study involved 903 New Zealanders who are taking part in a longitudinal study that began in the early '70s. Study participants who were classified as heavy marijuana users - those who used marijuana at least 41 times a year between the ages of 18 and 32 - were found to be three times more likely to have signs of severe gum disease and 60 percent more likely to have milder forms of gum disease than non-users.

Head researcher W. Murray Thomson of the University of Otago in New Zealand said that the increased risk was not likely caused by the marijuana smoke coming into contact with the gums as it was inhaled, but was probably the result of toxins in the cannabis that were absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. It is likely that toxins in marijuana smoke inhibit the body's ability to fight off inflammation in the gums caused by the presence of bacteria, Thomson said.

Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which seeks to legalize the use of marijuana, challenged the study's findings, saying that the researchers failed to look at the subjects' use of alcohol or other drugs, which he says are known risk factors for gum disease. He also said that the higher incidence of gum disease could have been due simply to poor brushing and flossing habits, not marijuana use.

Rather than claiming that their study demonstrated a causal relationship between marijuana use and gum disease, the researchers noted that their work suggests only an association. Dr. James Beck of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, who participated in the study, said he hopes that additional studies would be conducted to confirm the link.

Want More Information?

Contact a Doctor Near You.