Just this year alone, millions of people across the United States will be diagnosed with periodontitis, also often referred to as gum disease. Gum disease is extremely common, especially in adults, but if left untreated, it can cause gum recession and even the loss of teeth. Other common symptoms of periodontitis also include chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away and red, swollen gums that easily bleed.

Many adults will be diagnosed with periodontitis at some point, but the disease is preventable in almost all cases. Often, periodontitis is caused by poor oral hygiene, but those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or gingivitis may also be at a higher risk of developing periodontitis. Those who take certain medications, especially ones that cause dry mouth, may be at a higher risk of developing periodontitis. Additionally, those who use tobacco products, like cigarettes and chewing tobacco, are also at an increased risk of developing periodontitis. But can smoking cannabis also lead to periodontitis? Below, Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler will discuss the intersection between cannabis and periodontitis, and explain why those who use medical marijuana may want to consider choosing healthier ways to use medical marijuana besides smoking.

What is the Difference Between Periodontitis and Gingivitis?

When one neglects to brush or floss their teeth, the plaque that forms on their teeth after eating or drinking hardens and turns into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed with a normal toothbrush – instead, a dental professional must use a special metal tool to remove the tartar from the teeth and gums. When tartar builds up in the mouth, the gums can easily become red and swollen, and even bleed. This stage of the disease is called gingivitis – gingivitis is a mild form of periodontitis that is almost always treatable with careful adherence to a dental regimen, including yearly cleanings with a dentist or dental hygienist.

If left untreated, however, gingivitis may turn into advanced-stage periodontitis, resulting in the formation of pockets between the teeth and gums leading to loss of bone in the jaw, and even the loss of teeth. Treatment is much more difficult at this stage of gum disease, and may even require surgery or other complex procedures like bone and tissue grafts. It is crucial that those who have symptoms of gum disease see their dentist as soon as possible. The earlier periodontitis is identified and treated, the less likely the disease is to progress into a more advanced stage.

Alternative Methods of Cannabis Consumption to Avoid Periodontitis

There is strong evidence to suggest that smoking anything – including both tobacco and cannabis – greatly increases one’s risk of developing gum disease. According to this 2010 study, those who smoke cannabis may be at risk of developing periodontitis as early as 32 years of age. This study showed that cannabis smokers may indeed be at risk of developing periodontitis and other gum-related illnesses irrespective of whether they smoke tobacco or not.

There is also some preliminary evidence to suggest that cannabis may have a direct negative effect on the workings of the oral immune system which could lead to worsening gingivitis or periodontitis. However, this theory is too new to say for sure.

Luckily, however, there are many other ways to consume cannabis that are far less harmful than smoking, including vaporization and oral consumption. Unlike smoking, using a vaporizer to heat up raw cannabis or eating edibles should not put one at a higher risk of developing periodontitis, as there is no combustion involved. Moreover, these methods of consuming cannabis are simply much safer than smoking and are recommended for most patients using medical marijuana.

Other Ways to Prevent Gum Disease While Using Cannabis

Of course, it is important that everyone practice good dental hygiene, regardless of whether they use cannabis or not. The most effective way to prevent gum disease is to floss once a day and brush your teeth at least twice a day. If you smoke cigarettes, you should consider quitting. Visiting your dentist’s office for a regular cleaning once or twice a year will also help reduce your risk of developing periodontitis. During a standard dental cleaning, a dental professional will not only clean your teeth, but they may also take x-rays to assess bone loss and if necessary, refer you to a periodontist, a type of doctor who specializes in the disease.

Consult a Trained Boston Medical Cannabis Specialist Today

Although there is no way to completely prevent periodontitis, maintaining a proper dental health regimen that includes yearly or bi-yearly checkups at the dentist’s office greatly reduces one’s chances of developing the disease. If you have periodontitis, or have an underlying condition that puts you at a higher risk of developing periodontitis of developing gum disease and would like to learn more about incorporating medical marijuana into your treatment plan, consider setting up a consultation with a doctor who has experience helping patients with medical marijuana. Boston medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler has spent years assisting patients with medical marijuana, and can help you determine if you may find cannabis to be beneficial. For more information, or to set up a consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call (617) 861-8519 today.