Will Smoking Pot Really Make Your Gums Rot?

Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D and Jenna Krall

A recent study of pot smokers revealed that they have significantly increased cases of periodontitis. But are marijuana users really known for their good brushing habits?

As reported by the Washington Post, heavy pot smokers are 60% more likely to develop early gum disease. The study claimed to “account for tobacco use, gender and a lack of dental care.” However, in this study, dental care refers to regular visits to the dentist, not daily brushing. Dental plaque was measured (and controlled for), but brushing habits were not considered. In other words, the Post didn’t take into account that pot smokers might not brush their teeth as often as the American Dental Association recommends (or as much as those who don’t smoke).

The Post also reports that “heavy marijuana users have as much as three times the risk of developing serious gum disease compared to those who haven’t smoked pot.” The implication is that smoking pot causes gum disease (as smoking tobacco is well-known to do). Putting aside the illegality issue, the article implores people to stop smoking marijuana for their own health.

In terms of finding a “causal pathway,” it may well be that smoking pot lowers people’s willingness or interest to take care of their teeth by brushing and flossing (and hence quitting pot would improve your gum health). It’s also possible that those less interested in their teeth are more interested in pot.

In sum, though this article suggests that smoking pot causes gum decay, it is entirely possible that heavy marijuana users are simply unconcerned for the well-being of their gums.

9 Responses to Will Smoking Pot Really Make Your Gums Rot?

  1. lal says:

    It didn’t for me…and I was high form sun up to sun down every day for 15 years…and i didn’t brush all that much either…maybe 4 times a week, and i ditn go to the dentist either…my gums were fine. My lungs on the other hand took a beating.

  2. wierd says:

    I am recovering from yesterday’s connective gum graft surgery right now. I am 29 and a regular pot smoker (non cigarette) who has perfectly good hygeine, health insurance/ top quality medical care, and even ran a half marathon last month. So I would not say “attribute it to people with poor hygiene”; everyone I know that smokes pot are a bunch of yuppies with $200 bongs and Sonicare toothbrushes. Yet here I am with these disgusting holes in my mouth– I haven’t confessed to my periodontist that I am a smoker and think I will on a follow up appointment to get his thoughts- I honestly didn’t know the potential relevance until reading a couple articles.

  3. Hey There,

    I quit smoking weed, and I can honestly say I was a smoker that was too lazy or burnt out to take proper care of my teeth. Smokers tend to have poorer diets than non smokers as well. My teeth and gums have improved, hugely. And the breath you get from smoking weed…gone for good.

  4. Stan says:

    Jeez, I have never had any gum problems (mind you I quit smoking weed a long time ago, cigarettes too). But I did smoke both for a long time and I have excellent teeth. But I have always brushed well and always regularly visit the dentist and have a proper cleaning twice a year.

  5. Andy says:

    Great blog! We smokers are having our rights eroded away a bit at a time every day. I appreciate you posting this on the web. I have made a blog with news about smoking and would appreciate you looking at it and giving me your feedback. It is at http://www.tfilt.com. Thanks in advance.

  6. Kathryn says:

    I would think that smoking pot would do the same kind of damage that smoking cigarettes does as far as your gums go. Maybe it is just the smoke, no matter where it comes from.

  7. When did they start these studies? They do realize that people have been smoking this stuff for thousands of years though right?

  8. I agree with Kathryn, pot and cigarettes have the same effect on gums.

  9. I personally don`t think it`s true… But anyways, nice article!

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