With the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Massachusetts implemented last December, it is important to consider the effect that cannabis can have on your oral health. A recent study published in the JAMA Psychiatry found that 56.6% of 38-year-old participants who had been smoking marijuana for 15 to 20 years exhibited more symptoms of gum disease in comparison to 13.5% of their nonsmoking counterparts.
Gum disease is caused by the bacteria present in plaque, the sticky film that constantly forms on teeth. When plaque is not removed, it can harden and become calculus, which cannot be brushed away by a regular toothbrush. Plaque and calculus are dangerous to your oral health. They can cause erosion when left on the teeth, which may lead to cavities and gum disease.
The effects of marijuana smoke and cigarette smoke are somewhat comparable. By now, most people can recognize the negative health impacts of cigarette smoking. Smoking tobacco has been linked to lung cancer, emphysema and blood clots. So, it’s no surprise that smoking can have adverse effects on the teeth and gums as well. Smoking can:
While cannabis itself is less harmful to the teeth and gums than tobacco, chemicals in the smoke decrease the flow of saliva, causing dry mouth. Without enough saliva to wash away food and bacteria, a dry mouth can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, both tobacco and marijuana smoke contain chemicals that are harmful to the gums. When inhaled directly, the high temperature of marijuana smoke can harm the oral tissues.
Marijuana smokers are less likely to perform proper dental care as well, the study suggests. Brushing at least twice per day, flossing once and adequate hydration are critical to maintaining a healthy mouth. Regular cannabis users who do not practice good oral hygiene may develop tooth and gum disease.
Gum disease is a common condition in which the gums become swollen, sore or infected. Many adults have the disease to a degree and will experience it at least once throughout their lifetime. If the condition worsens and is left untreated, the jaw may become damaged and allow small spaces to open up between the gums and the teeth. This causes pain, bad breath, and tooth loosening or complete loss.
Gum disease is often hard to catch, as symptoms frequently do not appear until an advanced stage. Warning signs of the condition may include the following:
There are plenty of ways to stop gum disease if you use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes:
If you think that you are at risk for gum disease, make an appointment with Dr. Alwazzan in Weston today so that we can devise a proper treatment plan that suits your condition.
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