Smoking Marijuana May Lead to Tooth Loss


Periodontal disease is a type of bacterial inflammation that extends deep into the gum tissues, causing loss of supporting connective tissue and alveolar bone. Left unchecked, it can result in the loosening and eventual loss of teeth. Periodontal disease is a dynamic phenomenon with patterns of progression and resolution at any given site. Smoking is thought to tip the balance toward progression by impairing the immune response and by compromising the periodontal tissue's ability to heafollowing a period of disease activity.

According to the National Institute on DrugAbuse, marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in America. Many marijuana smokers have poor oral health and also smoke tobacco. Previous studies have also reported similar carcinogenic properties in tobacco and marijuana smoke. The origin of periodontal disease may be linked to the deeper inhalation and prolonged contact associated with marijuana smoking.

Researchers from the Department of Oral Sciences at the Dunedin School of Medicine in New Zealand investigated how marijuana and tobacco smoking might contribute to periodontal disease. They evaluated self-reported information from 903 participants about their smoking habits. Patients were given dental examinations, including periodontal measurements, at ages 26 and 32 years.

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Young adults who were regular marijuana smokers had a higher incidence of periodontal disease by age 32. Regular cannabis smokers were also three times more likely to have loss of periodontal attachment than nonsmokers of marijuana. In addition, the authors identified an association between cannabis smoking and periodontal disease in regular cannabis users who had never smoked tobacco.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 299:525-531.)

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