Washington: Beware! A study has warned that frequent recreational use of cannabis, including marijuana, hashish, and hash oil, doubles the risk of gum disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory reaction to a bacterial infection below the gum line.
If left untreated then the gum disease can lead to receding gums and tooth loss.
Longstanding periodontal disease has also been associated with a number of non-oral health issues, from preterm labour during pregnancy to heart disease.
Lead study author Jaffer Shariff from Columbia University School of Dental Medicine (CDM) noticed a possible link between frequent recreational cannabis use and gum disease.
"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 Dr. Shariff.
The researchers analysed data from 1,938 adults.
Approximately 27 percent of the participants reported using cannabis one or more times for at least 12 months.
Periodontal exams focus on a patient's gum tissue and connection to the teeth.
"Even controlling for other factors linked to gum disease, such as cigarette smoking, frequent recreational cannabis smokers are twice as likely as non-frequent users to have signs of periodontal disease," Dr. Shariff stated.
Among other assessments, periodontists look for plaque, inflammation, bleeding, and gum recession.
The clinician uses a probe to measure the space between teeth and their surrounding gum tissue.
Healthy gums fit a tooth snugly, with no more than one to three millimeters of space, known as pocket depth, between the tooth and surrounding gum tissue. Deeper pockets usually indicate presence of periodontitis.
The results indicated that the study participants, frequent recreational cannabis users had more sites with pocket depths indicative of moderate to severe periodontal disease than less frequent users.
The results appeared in the journal of Periodontology.