Recreational marijuana, or cannabis or pot, use may cause gingival bleeding and gum disease, and increase your risk of gum disease and periodontal disease.  A study in the Journal of Periodontology “Relationship Between Frequent Cannabis (Marijuana and Hashish) Use and Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: NHANES 2011-2012” followed up on people who used cannabis a minimum once per month for a year.

Such marijuana users had deeper periodontal probing depths, more areas of attached gingiva loss (ie. loss of gum tissue covering the root surfaces of teeth), and subsequent higher risk of severe periodontitis than those who used cannabis less frequently.  Each tooth has six areas the dentist and hygienist “probes” and measures to determine gum health and presence or absence of periodontal disease.  This measurement is usually done at least once a year to assess periodontal health, and is essence an assessment of the amount of space from the gingiva (gum line) to where the gingiva attaches to the bone.  A measurement 3mm or less is considered healthy; rampant areas of 5mm and less suggest  mild periodontal disease; 7mm pockets and higher denote advanced periodontitis and is often associated with moderate to advanced bone loss and tooth mobility.  Said study in the Journal of Periodontology found that frequent cannabis users had greater number of teeth with probing depths greater than 6mm and 8mm than non frequent users.

Proper daily oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing can help prevent, lessen, and improve the side effects of gingival and periodontal disease.  Biannual dental checkups and dental cleanings are also recommended to help prevent periodontal disease, which may be easier to treat when caught in its early stages.

As marijuana use becomes more prevalent in the medical field and recreational activity, it is important to understand the effects of cannabis on the body’s health, and as such more studies on the systemic and dental effects of marijuana are recommended by this author.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Chien

Bellevue Family Dentistry
1299 156th Ave NE #115
Bellevue, WA  98007