There’s a new study from researchers at Columbia University links cannabis use to gum disease. Dr. Fred Guerra with Guerra Dental in Colorado Springs was not part of the study but says, it’s long been known that smoking and chewing tobacco is unhealthy for your teeth and gums so it’s a not huge a surprise that the data from this study says the same about marijuana.
“A very infrequent cannabis user, like once a week or twice a week is not going to have a significant effect on their overall periodontal oral health status. But just like cigarettes can have a deleterious effect and are known to cause oral cancer, so can some of the carcinogens in smoked cannabis.”
The study of over 1,900 people over a year who self reported recreational cannabis use in one or more forms, found those who used more frequently had moderate to severe periodontal disease. Dr. Guerra says understanding how it’s ingested and how often it’s ingested are important factors.
”We know there is legitimate medical use for marijuana and some of that might be a tablet that’s ingested, and that’s not going to have a significant effect on the periodontal disease. There are either medical or recreational uses of gummy bears, that have cannabis and that sticky type of use of medical marijuana or recreational marijuana is going to be dilatorious to the teeth, no different than regular sugary gummy bears. It doesn’t matter if it’s being vaped or smoked, we always have to take into consideration how it’s being ingested, how it’s being consumed, and the frequency is very very important. If you’re not doing the in-between brushing and flossing to keep it (your mouth) clean, you’re going to develop problems.”
Finally Dr. Guerra says it’s important to be honest with your dentist when it comes to cannabis use.
“We ask everyone about any type of a medication they are using. We specifically ask on the health history if you consume cannabis, just like with tobacco. The information simply helps us counsel patients and the fact that they’re at the dental office puts them a step ahead of the the cannabis users that don’t even bother.”
Dr. Guerra also points out a dentist’s job is to take care of your oral health not judge your social habits. If you have any questions about marijuana use and your oral health follow up with your dentist and in general make sure you’re getting regular cleanings and oral cancer screenings.