Marijuana – Another Risk Factor in Gum Disease


The AAP Journal is reporting a connection between gum disease and frequent use of marijuana.

Cigarettes and cigars are not the only culprits! Research has shown that regular smoking of recreational cannabis, (marijuana, hashish and hash oil), may elevate the risk of gum disease. It appears that even use of marijuana once a month for a year will increase indicators of mild, moderate and severe periodontal disease.

In studies of the relationship between frequent use of cannabis and gum disease, users demonstrated a significant increase in pocket depths. Pockets are the measurement of the space between a tooth and surrounding gum tissue. Pocket depths in healthy individuals should measure 4mm or less. Measurements exceeding 4mm indicate the presence of infection, and can range from moderate to severe. Studies done by the American Academy of Periodontology and the Center for Disease Control have shown that nearly half of all U.S. adults, age 30 and above have some level of periodontal disease.

Now that many states are considering legalization of marijuana, users need to be aware of the possible effect it can have on their periodontal health. Patients should inform their dentist and periodontist about their use of cannabis.

Gum disease is caused by inflammatory response to bacteria below the gum line. It can cause bleeding, swelling of the tissues, bad breath, recession and ultimately tooth loss. The best defense against gum infection is effective brushing and flossing on a daily basis, regular dental or periodontal checkups, and eliminating or limiting the use of cannabis products. Following these preventive measures can protect the health of the gums and teeth and add years of life to a healthy smile. Fortunately, periodontal disease is treatable and often reversible with appropriate care at the periodontist.

For more information on the relationship between cannabis and gum disease, visit the AAP at