Your Sonora, CA dentist, Dr. Berger understands that many patients have mixed feelings about the upcoming California ballot measure that would legalize marijuana. Whether the measure becomes law or not, it’s still a good idea to understand what marijuana usage could potentially mean to your long-term oral health.
While not much was known about the impact pot smoking could have on teeth and gums, a new long-term study from New Zealand is poised to finally provide some answers.
Based on the examination of 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to the age of 38, the study discovered that individuals who smoke pot for up to 20 years have a higher prevalence of gum disease but otherwise showed no worse physical health when compared to nonsmokers.
The researchers assessed a dozen metrics used to determine physical health, including glucose control, blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, waist size, and metabolic syndrome.
Study participants that also smoked tobacco were found to have high levels of gum disease aw well as impaired lung function, poor metabolic health, and systemic inflammation.
Researchers were able to clearly outline the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in the study but were unable to see similar problems in marijuana smokers.
The results of this study were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Understanding The Oral Impact of Marijuana
While study participants who had used marijuana to some degree over the last 20 years showed an increase in periodontal disease between the ages of 26 to 38, they did not differ from non-pot smokers on any of the other metrics used to measure physical health.
Statistical analysis also showed that the decline in periodontal health among marijuana smokers was not simply explained by poor oral hygiene habits, alcohol abuse, or a smoking habit. Their lack of physical health problems was also not attributable to being in better initial health when the study began.
Researchers were quick to point out that just because the study did not find any negative health consequences linked to pot smoking did not mean that using the drug was entirely safe. Other studies that examined the same pool of participants found that marijuana use was linked to an increased risk of psychosis, drop in IQ, and downward socioeconomic mobility.
Researchers pointed out that recreational marijuana use does have some adverse effects, but overall damage to a user’s physical health was not apparent from the results of this study.
Protecting Your Oral Health
Your Sonora, CA dentist, Dr. Berger, wants all of his patients to enjoy their favorite habits while still enjoying a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. For patients who choose to smoke, protecting your oral health means making a commitment to practicing quality oral hygiene.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. While brushing after every meal would be idea, you should at least brush once in the morning and again before bed. You also need to floss at least once a day. Flossing helps to remove bacteria and lingering food particles from areas of your mouth a brush just cannot reach, such as between your teeth and below the gum line.
By brushing and flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental cleanings and exams with our staff at Sonora Dental, you can significantly lower your risk of gum disease.