Medicinal marijuana may have many benefits, but one should not forget that, as with most drugs, users can also experience short- and long-term adverse effects.
Marijuana is already well known for contributing to the impairment of younger people's brain function, memory and performance, but what users may not know is that their mouths will also suffer if they continue using the drug recreationally.
New research recently published by the Columbia University's College of Dental Medicine suggests that the frequent and prolonged use of recreational marijuana may increase one’s risk of developing gum disease. This can in turn become a very serious dental and oral health issue.
In the context of the study, a dental exam was performed on 2000 people who had previously been questioned on whether or not they consumed marijuana and the frequency of their habit. After these procedures, researchers were able to conclude that those who had used the drug recreationally at least once in the previous month were more likely to develop a periodontal disease than those who didn’t indulge in the same habit.
Looking at the study more closely, one can also conclude that those who consume marijuana products more frequently are actually twice more likely to present markers of a serious periodontal disease than those who only indulge in the use of the drug occasionally.
This data was acquired excluding those who also have a tobacco habit, as the use of these products is also strongly linked to poor dental and oral health.
Researchers were especially focused on finding signs of periodontitis when examining the participants of this study. The condition is usually diagnosed when there are deep pockets in the gums where healthy teeth should fit perfectly.
Those who have been diagnosed with periodontitis should seek treatment quickly, as this gum infection is fairly serious and can cause damage not only to the gum tissue, but also to the bone structure that supports teeth.
Periodontitis is often painful, and it can cause a number of issues in the mouth area - from bleeding gums to bad breath and, in extreme cases, to the loss of teeth.
This study did not attempt to explain the link between cannabis and gum disease, but the hypothesis that the non-cannabis part of the plant can be responsible for the adverse effects has been brought forward by previous research. This study also suggested that these parts of the cannabis plant may be similar to tobacco, thus having a similar effect as well.
Ideal hygiene, particularly when enhanced with the use of fluoride toothpaste, as well as regular visits to the dentist are the best and safest ways to lessen the damage marijuana can create in users’ mouths.
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