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Smoking Marijuana Can Impact Oral Health

May 01, 2018

By Dean George

The taboo of smoking marijuana may be on the decline due to more states legalizing it, but a 2017 New Zealand research study warns there may be oral health consequences for regular users of the drug.

Getting High Can Impact Oral Health

According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, habitual marijuana smokers are three times more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease by age 32 than those who don’t smoke it. The study considered subjects habitual if they had smoked marijuana at least 40 times since turning 18.

Researchers reported that the connection between smoking marijuana and periodontal disease was true even for study participants who didn’t use tobacco.

The New Zealand study believes the increased risk can be attributed to gum tissue being exposed to higher temperatures when smoking. The increased temperature in the mouth prompts the mucus membranes in the gums to overcompensate to protect the tissues from damage.

Additional oral health factors for those smoking marijuana are tooth cavities, green-stained teeth, Xerostomia (dry mouth) and irritation of oral tissues which can lead to skin redness and swelling.

The New Zealand researchers analyzed the dental health of over 903 men and women born between 1972 and 1973. They were split into three groups: non-marijuana smoker, occasional marijuana smoker and regular marijuana smoker.

As marijuana use becomes less taboo, dentists and doctors may find themselves in the unenviable position of quizzing patients about whether they smoke marijuana and how often.

Patients also need to be transparent with oral and medical professionals to ensure that those diagnosing them have all the necessary information to correctly treat them.

Whether a patient is smoking marijuana recreationally or for medical purposes, the potential harmful consequences are the same. Smokers that plan to enjoy their pot and keep their teeth too should brush more than twice a day, floss regularly, eat foods that are good for oral health and drink lots of water daily.

Marijuana users can also explore ingesting the drug in other forms like lollipops, baked goods or pill form. These are less harmful to your teeth.

Dental visits every six months are also recommended, and we have plans that can help with that. Click here to see plans available in your area.

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