Tobacco and Cannabis Smoking Associated With Declining Periodontal Health

Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums which can eventually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Over time areas of the bone can be impacted which is then called periodontitis. Tobacco smoking is recognized as the most important environmental risk factor in periodontitis. Tobacco use in any form—cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco—raises your risk for gum disease.

At the periodontitis stage, the gums can recede from the teeth and form pockets of bacteria and debris. The end result can be the loss of teeth as the bone deteriorates. 

Tobacco Use & Periodontal Health

Smoking weakens the body's immune system, making it harder to fight off a gum infection. And once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal.
Some facts for smokers relating to gum disease:
  • The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
  • The more cigarettes you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
  • You have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a nonsmoker.
  • Treatments for gum disease may not work as well for people who smoke.

Marijuana Smoking & Periodontal Health

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who are heavy marijuana smokers may be at significant risk for periodontal disease. The study, which was conducted in New Zealand, is the first long-term evaluation of the relationship between cannabis smoking and gum disease.

The authors tracked self-reported data on cannabis use and tobacco smoking in a group of adults born between 1972 and 1973 and found a "strong association between cannabis use and periodontitis experience by age 32." Regular cannabis users were three times more likely to have significant periodontal attachment loss than non-smokers of cannabis.

Another study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatryfound study participants who self-reported cannabis use for up to 20 years were more likely to have periodontal disease, and that their periodontal health declined from age 26 to age 38. 

Conclusions

Dr. Jessica Stilley reminds us that, "The best way to prevent gum disease is daily brushing and flossing combined with regular professional examinations and cleanings." She adds that "Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. The use of tobacco and marijuana smoking do have a negative effect on your gums and overall health."

Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress. Doing your part to prevent further damage is critical.

Dr. Jessica Stilley reminds us that, "The best way to prevent gum disease is daily brushing and flossing combined with regular professional examinations and cleanings." She adds that "Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. The use of tobacco and marijuana smoking do have a negative effect on your gums and overall health."