Marijuana Smokers May Get More Periodontal Disease

February 5, 2008

Young adults who regularly smoke marijuana have more advanced and greater progression of gum disease than young adults who do not smoke marijuana, according to research published in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults who regularly smoke marijuana have more advanced and greater progression of gum disease than young adults who do not smoke marijuana, according to research published in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

W. Murray Thomson, Ph.D., of the Sir John Walsh Research Institute, School of Dentistry in Dunedin, New Zealand, and his colleagues reported on 903 subjects included in a prospective cohort study, who completed drug use questionnaires at ages 18, 21, 26 and 32 years, and underwent dental exams at 26 and 32 years of age. Respondents were stratified by the annual mean of their self-reported cannabis use and in accordance with periodontal disease status.

Respondents in the highest 20 percent exposure to cannabis use had the greatest prevalence of periodontal combined attachment loss (CAL) compared to those who had never smoked with relative risks of 1.6, 3.1 and 2.2 for having one or more sites with 4 mm, 5 mm or 3 mm or greater CAL, respectively.

In an accompanying editorial, Philippe P. Hujoel, Ph.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, warns that biases in the study design mean that additional studies are necessary to confirm the results, but he expresses concern "that destructive periodontal disease occurs at a much younger age than previously believed."

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