Marijuana is being recognized for its benefits to mental health and some pain management, but that doesn’t mean the drug is completely safe. A recent study from Columbia University shows that smoking pot for recreation increases the risk of gum disease and tooth loss.
“It is well known that frequent tobacco use can increase the risk of periodontal disease, but it was surprising to see that recreational cannabis users may also be at risk,” said lead research Jaffer Shariff in a statement.
Pot Smoking Doubles Gum Disease Risk
Specifically, the study found that recreational use marijuana doubles users’ risk of periodontal disease, or gum disease. If left untreated, this condition can cause receding gums and eventually tooth loss.
Gum disease is a result of toxins produced by bacteria in the plaque buildup in and around the gum line. This causes inflammation, which in itself can cause the gums to separate from the teeth, forming pockets that in turn can become infected. As the disease further progresses, the pockets of infection get deeper and more gum tissue is destroyed. Eventually, this can lead to loosening of the teeth to the point where they either have to be removed or fall out on their own.
Users Urged to Understand Consequences
While researchers say the point of the study was not to discourage marijuana use, but to get people to understand the health consequences of smoking pot – especially for medicinal or recreational use.
Of course, gum disease can be prevented and lessened with proper oral hygiene, and bi-annual check ups. Brushing your teeth will remove plaque trapped in between the teeth and gums that could potentially lead to an infection. Flossing and using mouthwash can also help to prevent this same risk.