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Journal Bites - Cannabis and Periodontitis

Given Canada’s recent legalization of the recreational use of cannabis, the findings of this clinical study in the Journal of Periodontology are particularly relevant for dental practitioners treating patients that use cannabis.

Twenty-six percent of the 1,938 study participants identified as frequent cannabis users. Two key variables – pocket depth (PD) and clinical attachment loss (CAL) – were analyzed and the results indicated:

  • Frequent cannabis users exhibited a significantly higher mean number of sites with pocket depths measuring greater than 4, 6 and 8 mm, compared with non-users.

  • Frequent cannabis users also showed a significantly higher number of sites with CAL measuring greater than 3, 4 and 8 mm, compared with non-users.

  • Forty percent of the frequent cannabis users also smoked tobacco. However, when the entire sample of results was analyzed, a positive correlation was found between periodontitis and all the study participants, including those who had never smoked tobacco.
The findings indicate frequent cannabis users are significantly more likely to present with moderate to severe periodontitis and compromised oral health. The authors suggest dentists and dental hygienists need a comprehensive plan to raise awareness of the risk and deal with the effects of a possible increase in patients who frequently use cannabis.

Source: Shariff JA, Ahluwalia KP, et al. Relationship between frequent recreational cannabis (marijuana and hashish) use and periodontitis in adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011 to 2012. Journal of Periodontology 2017 Mar; 88(3):273-280.