WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Smoking marijuana, much like smoking tobacco, may increase a person's risk for gum disease that can lead to tooth loss, researchers said on Tuesday.
A study of 903 New Zealanders found that people who smoked marijuana frequently had triple the risk for severe gum disease and a 60 percent higher risk for a milder form of it compared to people who did not smoke the drug, also called cannabis.
People who smoked marijuana less frequently had a smaller increased risk for gum disease, the researchers said.
Gum or periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. In advanced stages, the gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged and the teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be removed.
"While it has been known for a few years that tobacco smoking is bad for the periodontal (gum) tissues, no one has investigated whether any other type of smoking is also a risk factor," W. Murray Thomson, a professor of dental public health at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said by e-mail.
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