Healthy Living

Gum Disease is Common in Pot Smokers

Gum Disease is Common in Pot Smokers

Key Takeaways

  • This disease, considered to be a disease due to aging, was very common among people who smoke marijuana.

A new study published in, The Journal of American Medical Association, reports that pot use is associated with gum disease. This disease, considered to be a disease due to aging, was very common among people who smoke marijuana. The result remained the same even after accounting for all other factors that increases the risk of gum diseases. The study shows that people who smoke marijuana have 60% more chances of developing gum problems, when compared to those who do not smoke. Almost one out of three people showed evidence of gum disease.

Researcher W. Murray Thompson, PhD, says that about one fifths of the participants had gum disorders at 20-years-old and by the age of 32-years-old, it increased to one third. “Irrespective to what you are using, cannabis or tobacco, smoking always has a negative impact on the health of the gums," she adds.

In this study, researchers analyzed the data of 903 participants from a large ongoing New Zealand comprehensive health trial. Participants reported about the usage of marijuana at the age of 18-years-old, 21-years-old, 26-years-old, and 32-years-old. About one third of the participants did not have exposure to marijuana, while one half of them reported to have some exposure, defined as smoking about one to 40 times in the previous year. About 20% of participants were heavy marijuana users, defined as smoking more than 40 times in a year.

Heavy marijuana smokers were three times more likely to have severe gum diseases when compared to people who do not smoke at all. Heavy pot users were 60% more likely to show evidence of gum diseases when compared to those who do not smoke. Moderate smokers, with some exposure, also had more evidence of gum diseases when compared to non smokers, but the gum problems were not as severe as that of heavy smokers.

One of the earlier studies, the Dunedin trial had shown that cigarette smoking was one of the strongest risk factor for gum diseases in the participants who were in the average age group or 20 years. This is now confirmed in the present study. Thomson reported that the evidence of gum diseases in cigarette smokers who gave up the habit before they reached 20 years was equivalent to those who never smoked. He says that there is a fine balance between damage and repair in the gums. Smoking produces more damage and when the habit is stopped gums automatically gets into the repair mode.

The researchers conclude that smoking may be the primary behavioral risk factor for early gum disease. Philippe Hujoel, PhD, dental professor at the University of Washington, claims that gum diseases in the young age may lead to a host of other lifestyle diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. “Since young people visit dentists more often, dentist may be able to recognize the unhealthy lifestyle in these people," adds Philippe.