A dental health expert has welcomed the results of a new study that warns young pot-smokers of the health risks to their gums and teeth.
Researchers in New Zealand have discovered that regularly smoking cannabis as a young adult can lead to early periodontal disease – independent of tobacco use – as early as the age of 32.
The research found that smoking cannabis more than 41 times a year from the age of 18 was linked to 36% of periodontal disease cases among people aged 26 to 32.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), commented: ‘While the effect of cigarette smoking on oral health has been well documented, there is little out there warning against the dangers of smoking cannabis.
‘This study backs up the suspicion that regular use of cannabis can have a negative effect on the gums and, of course the rest of the body.’
The study – seemingly the first to analyse the effects of pot smoking on dental health – appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association this month.
Scientists tracked the smoking and dental habits of 903 people born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1972 and 1973.
They were asked about their cannabis use at ages 18, 21, 26 and 32 years, and dental examinations were conducted at ages 26 and 32, to measure new or worsening gum disease.
Dr Carter added: ‘We have been talking about the links between oral health and overall body health for some time now and, as the researchers point to toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs as the reason cannabis effects the gums, this study provides yet further proof of the little-known systemic links.’