Smoking marijuana damages your teeth

Smoking weed damages the gums

The damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the gums have long been known. A study from New Zealand has now found out for the first time that the smoke from cannabis also causes inflammation of the gums, which in the long term can lead to tooth loss.

Inflammation of the gums is one of the most common chronic diseases in adults, writes the research team led by study leader Murray Thomson in the recently published article. The accumulation of bacteria leads to inflammation, which in advanced stages leads to a regression of the gums. The disease is called periodontal disease or colloquially as periodontal disease. If the inflammation is not treated, the teeth will lose their hold until they fall out completely.

It is known that cigarette smokers are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease. In the New Zealand study, the research team conducted a longitudinal study for the first time to determine whether smoking cannabis also leads to a receding of the gums. To this end, 900 people aged 18, 21, 26 and 32 were asked about their cannabis use in the last 12 months. Examinations of the dental apparatus were also carried out on participants aged 26 and 32 years.

With regard to the use of cannabis, three groups were formed: no use, moderate or high use. The classification was based on the average frequency of smoking over the past year. Smoking weed up to 40 times, i.e. less than once a week, was classified as moderate consumption, 41 times or more as high consumption.

Although the authors do not report tooth loss, they do report a strong correlation between the frequency of cannabis use and the extent of receding gums. The heavy cannabis users in particular suffered from increased gum loss. At the age of 32, people from the group of heavily cannabis users have a 3.1-fold increased risk of severe periodontal disease. The influence of additional tobacco smoking and other important factors such as dental hygiene were taken into account in the statistical analysis. The authors also emphasize that it is rather unusual in New Zealand to mix cannabis with tobacco.

Thomson and his colleagues emphasize that the causes of periodontal disease in cannabis users are still unclear. However, they suspect that the damaging effect does not occur directly through the action of the smoke, but rather through a weakening of the immune reaction at the inflamed areas. This mechanism is known from cigarette smoking. Research has shown that cigarette smoke contains roughly the same harmful components as cannabis.

Press release JAMA
Thomson, W. M., Poulton, R., Broadbent, J. M. et al. (2008). Cannabis Smoking and Periodontal Disease Among Young Adults, JAMA, 299, 525-531. Abstract