Though the use of marijuana is increasingly more accepted around the world, with more and more countries legalising it for either medical purposes or recreational use, it is still illegal within New Zealand. Nevertheless, it is the most popular drug in the country despite being a controlled substance.
A study conducted by Duke University shows that regular marijuana usage increases the risk of periodontal gum disease. As with smoking tobacco, marijuana may aggravate the bacteria in the mouth and contribute to gum inflammation.
It is true that periodontitis is relatively common in New Zealand, even in large communities like Christchurch. You can avoid it by brushing your teeth and by regularly visiting a dental hygienist. Unfortunately, smoking cannabis increases your chances of developing it later on in life, despite taking these steps to prevent it.
Marijuana and its Links to Gum Disease
In the study that links marijuana to gum disease, a team of researchers surveyed 1,000 New Zealanders over several years, from birth to age 38. They were asked to record their marijuana usage at key points throughout their lives, from their teen years to adulthood.
The findings show that about 55.6% of the marijuana users had periodontal disease. On the other hand, only 13.5% of the participants who abstained from the drug had it.
Though the study is imperfect, it does show that the use of marijuana is not without its risks. Tobacco usage for example, has long been established to contribute significantly to gum disease. It is therefore no wonder that smoking marijuana would have similar effects.
Though marijuana is an illegal substance in New Zealand, it still ranks ninth in the world for the highest number of drug users in this category. The World Drug Report estimates that about 14.3% of the population have used it at one point in their lives.
This is problematic, because it may also mean that people are putting themselves at a greater risk of gum disease, which may even lead to tooth loss. On top of this, the university study shows that people who smoke weed regularly are also less likely to floss their teeth, which further exacerbates the problem.
To decrease the prevalence of periodontitis, it is best to avoid smoking marijuana and to practice good oral hygiene.