How to Avoid This Surprising Danger of Marijuana

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How to Decrease the Danger of Marijuana Use

According to a long-term health risk study, marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of periodontal disease.

What does that mean for cannabis users and their health?

Let’s learn about what an increased risk of periodontal disease might mean for you and the serious complications periodontal disease can lead to.  We’ll also review how to reduce the risk of developing marijuana-induced periodontal disease.

There aren't many long-term studies of cannabis users. According to this research, long-term marijuana users are at risk for this surprising danger.

Risks of Marijuana Use

I’m an all-day cannabis user.  I’m also a nurse, which means I have a lot of knowledge about the side effects of medications. Naturally, I can’t help but wonder about the long-term side-effects of any medication, including medical marijuana.

Any substance we put into our body has the potential to cause side effects.  When you drink caffeine you put your heart a risk.  When you take iron supplements you risk constipation (which in extreme cases can be deadly).

According to some studies, one of the biggest dangers of smoking marijuana is the increased risk of periodontal disease.


Periodontal Disease Is Linked To Heart Issue

Numerous studies have linked periodontal disease to heart disease.  Cause and effect have not been established, but a correlation has been observed.

Periodontal disease is associated with inflammation.  It’s been suggested that this inflammation affecting the mouth and gums, may also affect the cardiac system.

Here’s a video explaining:


Periodontal disease is dangerous because it could increase the risk of heart disease.


Cannabis Also Has Cardiac Side-Effects

Marijuana increases the heart rate and dilates blood vessels.  This usually results in lower blood pressure.

Besides these well-known cardiac side effects, a November 2016 study linked cannabis use to stress cardiomyopathy.



Long-Term Study of Cannabis Users

A study published in JAMA in July of 2016, followed marijuana users for 20 years.

Study Details:

Why:  To determine the long-term health risks cannabis users faced.

Where:  New Zealand

Who:   1037 participants; 657 were cannabis users (some using for up to 20 years).

How:  The researchers followed participants over the course of their lives.  They measured a variety of health indicators such as lung function, metabolism, and inflammation factors.

When:  1970’s – 2010’s

What they found:  Cannabis users have an increased risk of developing periodontal disease.


According to this study, the most dangerous long-term effect of cannabis use is the increased risk of periodontal disease.

That’s it. The only significant risk this study found was that cannabis users had an increased risk for periodontal disease. Read about the study on


What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is a disease of the gums.  Periodontal disease ranges in severity from mild bleeding gums/gingivitis to severe gum infection/periodontitis resulting in complete tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is caused by plaque.  Plaque is a film of accumulated bacteria adhering to the teeth.

Accumulated plaque eventually creeps below the gum line causing a multitude of issues.


Why would cannabis cause periodontal disease?

If cannabis causes periodontal disease, it’s possible that dry mouth is a contributing factor.

The mouth has saliva for a reason.  Its function is to continually bathe and clean the teeth.

Although, it’s important to note, during the period studied the most common method of cannabis consumption was smoking. Periodontal disease has also been linked to smoking cigarettes.

Vaping and weed edibles have not been studied yet.

Watch this to learn how important your spit actually is:


Dry mouth allows plaque bacteria to proliferate. If you suffer from dry mouth, it’s very important that you practice adequete dental hygeine.

Other Causes of Periodontal Disease

It’s not just cannabis, many medical disorders increase the risk of periodontal disease.

Disorders such as diabetes & hormone problems – even genetics can increase your risk of periodontal disease.


MANY Medications Increase the Risk of Periodontal Disease

Additionally, MANY pharmaceuticals increase your risk for periodontal disease.

Here’s a 23 PAGE list of other medications (besides cannabis) that can cause dry mouth.   (That’s a really long list.)


Will marijuana stain my teeth?

Smoking marijuana will definitely stain your teeth.  How vaporizing affects the teeth, however, has yet to be established.

Anecdotal evidence says vaporizing cannabis results in less tooth stain than smoking marijuana does.


Smoking Vs Vaporizing

Again, I want to point out that during the New Zealand research, smoking marijuana was the standard method of consumption.  This was prior to the vaporization being commonly used.

Smoking anything increases the risk of periodontal disease.  If you’re smoking marijuana, consider switching to vaporization.

Read: Health Benefits of Vaping vs Smoking Cannabis 


Dental Wellness & Marijuana

How to Protect Your Teeth & Gums

Dry mouth might increase the risk of periodontal disease, which might increase the risk of heart disease.

If you suffer from dry mouth, it means you’re missing protective saliva. This makes careful dental hygiene more important than ever.

Be sure to brush your teeth after consuming sugary food or drinks.

Here are ways for cannabis users to prevent dry mouth and reduce the risk for periodontal disease.


How To Avoid Dry Mouth From Cannabis

*If you’re concerned about dry mouth associated with cannabis use, explore other strains.  Some strains of cannabis cause more intense dry mouth than others.

Learn more about Treating Gingivitis from Positive Health Wellness.


But – Can Cannabis Also Protect & Heal Teeth?

Marijuana: A Potent Anti-Inflammatory

Let’s assume for a moment that periodontal disease is a caused by inflammation.

Research has repeatedly deemed marijuana a potent anti-inflammatory.  Could the dental application of cannabis reduce the risk of periodontal disease?

Some say yes.


CBD’s Bone Healing Properties

Additionally, cannabis has been found to improve bone health.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, demonstrated the remarkable bone healing properties of cannabidiol.  The study found that administering CBD (cannabidiol) to rats with leg fractures significantly improved healing.


Cannabinoids & Dental Care

Could the bone-healing and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis naturally protect (and possibly even heal) teeth?

There isn’t much research about cannabis’ dental effects, but studies suggest that marijuana might benefit our pearly whites.  It may simply depend on the method of consumption.

In fact, the research is so exciting that entire oral care lines are being designed around the possible dental effects of cannabis.  Dental care line, Orimax features the cannabinoid, CBG.


Consider Holistic Dental Care

Expand Your Dental Horizons

Brushing your teeth regularly and flossing is essential to maintain good oral hygiene, but consider diving a little deeper into your dental wellness routine.


How to Naturally Clean Your Teeth

There are good reasons natural care lines are flooding the market.

I want whiter teeth, but I don’t use bleach on my clothes, there’s no way I’m putting it in my mouth.

Written by Jessie Gill

Jessie Gill, RN is a cannabis nurse with a background in holistic health and hospice. After suffering a spinal injury, she reluctantly became a medical marijuana patient then quickly transitioned into an advocate. Her site, combines science with personal insight to educate about medical marijuana. She’s been featured on Viceland and bylines include GoodHousekeeping, Cosmopolitan, MSN, and more.

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