Marijuana Use and Gum Disease: Are They Related? Part 7

Welcome back, to all of our faithful followers and to those of you who are new readers who are with us today!  If you have been following this blog, then you’re already aware that we recently posted several segments of this article series which discussed 25 unusual and, perhaps, previously unknown facts about marijuana/cannabis use.  Also, if you have followed this blog for any length of time, I don’t have to tell you that, historically, Dr. Scharf has been a Periodontist in Long Island who likes to spread the word to his readers as well as his patients, keeping them informed about all things dental, especially as they may apply to their overall general health.  We welcome those of you who are new to this blog, and invite you to follow along as we continue to part 7 of this article series as we talk a bit about weight gain as it applies to marijuana use and gum disease.

Can you gain weight with marijuana use?

For those of us who already have a propensity for putting on unwanted weight, yoyo dieting and a variety of health conditions which are associated with obesity and uncontrolled weight gain, you probably really don’t want to talk about this particular aspect of cannabis use.  While I know you don’t need to hear yet another potential cause for unintended weight gain, this is an aspect of which you should be aware if you partake of marijuana/cannabis use.  There is data which has been released from a study done several years ago that supports this. There are several factors which can have an affect on your weight-gaining potential, like the quantity of marijuana that you smoke and your gender for example.  Researchers wanted to ascertain if pot users were at risk for putting on some extra poundage because, one of the side effects of pot use tends light up the munchie fire in many users.  The researchers reviewed data amassed on teens, aged 12 or 13, who enrolled in a 13 year study on nicotine dependence in teens.  When they reached the age of 20, 271 men and 319 women were queried about whether they had smoked marijuana in the past year and, if so, how often.  The frequency of smoking cigarettes was also ascertained at this same time. Body mass indexes and waist sizes were also tracked from age 17 to 24 in this same group.

What the study revealed

The researchers found that for those in the study group who smoked marijuana with regularity but did not smoke cigarettes did gain weight — the more often they smoked marijuana, the more weight they gained.  They found that men, for example, who smoked marijuana daily gained more weight than those men who only smoked the cannabis weekly.

More interesting information

The researchers ascertained that there are other factors which have an effect on weight gain with cannabis use … i.e. gender, level of marijuana use and cigarette smoking.  The caveat, then, is this, the researchers also looked at the data for those men who smoked both cigarettes and marijuana and found that men who smoked both marijuana and cigarettes gained less weight than those who smoked marijuana only.  I’m sure you’re curious as to the reason why they think this is so … the nicotine in the cigarettes tends to decrease appetite.  And the gender issue … well, the study revealed that women did not gain any less weight whether they smoked marijuana only or both cigarettes and marijuana.  They felt that the THC in marijuana and the nicotine in cigarettes is somehow modified by hormonal influences in the women’s brain.

Next time, we’ll talk about what happens in the brain with cannabis use.  Until then, we want to impress upon you the importance of getting established with a dental professional who can evaluate, identify and treat any oral issues which may exist for any member of your family, whether marijuana is being used or not.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in the role, he can identify and treat gum disease in you and your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Marijuana Use and Gum Disease: Are They Related? Part 6

Hello again, to all of our faithful followers and to those of you who are new readers who are with us today! We are so happy that you’ve returned for the last three of the interesting and unusual facts about marijuana discussion which we began several weeks ago.  If you are a returning reader, I don’t have to tell you that, historically, Dr. Scharf has been a Periodontist in Long Island who likes to spread the word to his readers as well as his patients, keeping them informed about all things dental, especially as they may apply to their overall general health.  We welcome those of you who are new to this blog, and invite you to follow along as we learn some things you may not have known before, as we get into part 6 of the article series which covers marijuana use and gum disease.   

As you may recall …

Over the past several segments, we have been discussing 25 odd and unusual (and interesting!) facts about marijuana that may not necessarily be well known to the mainstream population.  We felt it was important to share these facts with you as marijuana use is increasing across the United States as well as worldwide as more and more states in the U.S. and communities globally are approving the use of marijuana for legal medicinal and non-medicinal purposes.  One should always know as much as possible about what one is putting into one’s body.

Now, let’s finish the 25 …

  1.  How long will your cannabis survive?  Have you ever had cause or reason to find out if your harvested and dried marijuana would still look like marijuana several years down the road?  Researchers and archaeologists studied some ancient remains in 2008. It seems the remains belonged to a 45-year-old male who died most likely in the highlands of the Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang, China about 2, 700 years ago.  Soon after his death, it is believed that his bones were taken for interment to a cemetery called Yanghai in the Gobi Desert. Amid the remains, they found a bag and a bowl containing 28 ounces (789 grams) of cannabis sativa. Believe it or not, having apparently been preserved by the dry desert conditions, the plant substance was still green but without the distinctive cannabis smell.  The researchers tried to germinate the seeds but were unsuccessful and the plant found in the bowl was slightly ground up, suggesting, they believe, that the weed was used for “medicinal or mystical attributes”.
  1.  Buried in cannabis –  Archaeologists found the grave of another gentleman who was buried in a cemetery close to the cemetery in which the above gentleman was buried and felt that this second gentleman met his Maker about the same time as the previously found man.  This one was a 35-year-old man buried in Jiayi, a cemetery relatively near Yanghai in Western China. This man was strangely buried as well … under a shroud of cannabis! Researchers found 13 cannabis plants draped over his chest, extending from his chin to his groin in a diagonal fashion, the estimated age of the burial being between 2,400 and 2,800 years old.  While it is not known why he was buried in this fashion, the fact that the cannabis plants were grown plants which had been uprooted suggested that he had died and been buried in August or September.

25.  The green that can alter your “rewards” processing – In 2016, researchers did a study of marijuana users, some heavier users than others, to ascertain what, if any, affect the drug had on how the user perceives winning and losing.  They studied participants while they played a game in which they could win a few cents or lose a few dollars and brain scanning was used to monitor changes to the part of the brain which processes rewards … the nucleus accumbens.  The study data showed that the more frequent users of marijuana showed weaker responses to the nucleus accumbens responses than those who used less frequently. The study could not, however, definitively affirm that marijuana use was the cause of these brain changes, stating that there could be a third cause involved or some underlying reason why an individual with a somewhat reduced response to rewards might gravitate toward marijuana use.

Well, there you have it … all 25 odd, unusual and interesting facts you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask about marijuana!.  Seriously though, we truly hope that you have learned something important from this discussion and can look at marijuana use through more informed eyes.  We also hope that you have taken the initiative and gotten established with a dental professional who can evaluate and treat your family’s oral health conditions.  Dr Scharf wants to be be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.  

Marijuana Use and Gum Disease: Are They Related? Part 5

Hello to all of our faithful followers and to those of you who are new readers who are with us today!  If you are a returning reader, I don’t have to tell you that, historically, Dr. Scharf has been a Periodontist in Long Island who likes to spread the word to his readers as well as his patients, keeping them informed about all things dental, especially as they may apply to their overall general health.  For those of you who are new to this blog, we welcome you and invite you to follow along as we learn some things you may not have known before, as we get into part 5 of an article series which covers marijuana use and gum disease.   

First, a brief review

Our returning readers may recall that in the past couple of segments of this series, we have been talking about 25 interesting, unusual and perhaps previously unknown things about marijuana.  We have covered number 1 through 19 thus far and it is our plan to cover several more of these 25 points, though it is doubtful that we will complete the list today in this segment. We’ve also talked about the fact that each year more of our states are approving marijuana use for medicinal purposes and many are taking the next step toward approving it for non-medical use.  It is for this latter use that we feel it is important to know some of the lesser-publicized facts about marijuana since it is being made legally available to more people without the oversight of a medical professional.

On to the next group of the 25

  1.  Records of confiscation – Have you ever wondered (or even researched it for yourself) how many things the Guinness Book of Records actually records and reports?  Well, marijuana does show up in the record book but not for the amounts that are grown, smoked or consumed by the various methods available.  It has the dubious honor of being the “bulkiest drug seizure” up to 1982, the seizure weighting 2,903 metric tons (for those of us on the Imperial standard … that’s 6.4 million pounds).  The seizure was made from a Columbian drug operation (Operation Tiburon) which also included 495 people being arrested and the seizure of 95 boats which were suspected of illegal involvement in the operation.  The seizure amount of 2,903 metric tons represented about one-fifth of the entire illegal import of marijuana into the U.S. per year at the time of the seizure which was reported in 1982 in a New York Times article.
  1. Was William Shakespeare a marijuana user?  For those of you who have not heard that rumor, allow me to briefly bring you up to speed.  In 2001, an anthropologist’s curiosity was peaked when he allegedly found some marijuana residue on a pipe which was found in Shakespeare’s garden.  This incident, coupled with a reference to a “noted weed” found in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 76, caused the anthropologist to petition to exhume the grave of the famed playwright so that he could further the search for cannabis in hair and fingernail fragments.  Are you ready for the punchline? First of all, the anthropologist was denied the request for exhumation … and … according to a ground-penetrating radar survey done in 2016, Shakespeare doesn’t likely have any hair because they believe the skull is missing!
  1.  How old is marijuana trade?  Have you ever wondered if civilizations before ours had access to marijuana?  Well, interestingly, if you go back into ancient history, you will find that the first known pot dealers were nomads who roamed the Eastern European Steppe region.  According to a 2016 study, it is believed that the Yamnaya (traders from present day Russia and Ukraine) may possibly have traded cannabis throughout East Asia and Europe as far back as 5,000 years ago.  What makes this even more believable is the fact that the plant grows naturally in both continents, making it possible that as far back as 10,200 years ago the plant was available for multiple uses. It is believed that the increase in cannabis use which was found in this study was as a result of the Yamnaya bringing the smoking habit along as they traveled about.  

In our next segment, we will finish up the final three interesting and odd facts about marijuana, so please be sure to come back next week.  It is our hope that you are learning some new things about marijuana and its effects on the human body. Until next week, we encourage you to get established with a dental professional who can evaluate and monitor the oral health of each member of your family.  Dr Scharf wants to be be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.  

 

Marijuana Use and Gum Disease: Are They Related? Part 4

Welcome back! We so happy that all of our faithful followers as well as to those of you who are new readers are with us today!  For those returning readers, you know that, historically, Dr. Scharf is a Periodontist in Long Island who likes to keep his readers as well as his patients informed about all things dental, especially as they may apply to the overall general health of those patients and readers.  If you are new to this blog, we wish to welcome you and invite you to follow along as we learn some things you may not have known before, as we get into part 4 of a new article series which covers marijuana use and gum disease.    

From Our Previous Segment

In our previous segment, as you may recall, we continued a discussion about twenty-five interesting and unusual facts about marijuana.  You may also recall that we have been discussing why some of these things, as well as other things, may be important to you — with emphasis being given mainly because more and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical use while others are going a step further to legalize it for non-medical uses.  The result of these legal actions has been the increased use of this cannabis a it becomes more prevalent. It is our feeling that you should know as much about it as possible, especially if you or a loved one are currently involved or plan to become involved in its use. We can never know too much about what we’re putting into our bodies.

More of the Interesting and Unusual 25

In our last segment, we had gotten about halfway through the list of 25 unusual things we found about marijuana and, our plan is to make you aware of all 25 of them.  So, without further ado, let’s look at a few more of them:

  1.  Potential allergies to pot – Both the pollen as well as the smoke from the marijuana plant can cause the usual hay fever-like symptoms of coughing, itchy eyes, sneezing and occasional hives.  The reported cases are fewer than one might expect, but you must remember that until recently it was an illegal substance and still is in some areas, so reporting of these types of allergies simply may not have been considered safe and beneficial for the sufferer.  It is important to note as well that there exists a few cases which have been reported in which the victim has suffered from anaphylaxis symptoms, which is a life-threatening condition in which the allergen causes the airway to swell and close off.
  1. Potential for addiction with pot – Dependency on pot by some users has been documented, though the debate continues as to the percentage of users who are at risk.  The symptoms for withdrawal when attempts are made to stop using pot are things like irritability and restlessness and science is looking at the possibilities of a genetic link to show who’s at risk for dependency.  They have found some genetic factors which are suggestive of this but firm evidence remains elusive at this time to make the connection to these genetic factors and pot dependence. They have, however, shown that the variations in the genes which they have found are also seen frequently in people suffering from depression, suggesting that dependence and depression may accompany each other.
  1.  Have you ever wondered if pot mixes with other medications … like Viagra?  Marijuana compounds are known to break down certain liver enzymes, specifically noting that cytochrome P450 is one very important effected enzyme.  It seems that Viagra (sildenafil) relies on cytochrome P450 to break down in the blood and, when used by someone who has been using pot, can increase cardiac issues by causing elevations of the drug in the plasma.  The case of a 41-year old man having a heart attack after combining Viagra and pot the previous night has raised an alarm in the medical community. While it can’t be proven that it was a drug interaction which caused the heart attack, it has thrown up a warning to doctors to exercise more caution when prescribing Viagra.
  1.  The cannabis “back to the future” – Did you know that prior to the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, cannabis ingredients were fairly common in some medical tinctures … and … believe it or not, the manufacturers were not required to list those ingredients on the label?  How about the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937? It came about to control the influx of marijuana that came with cultural changes brought to the United States with the Mexican immigration.  The control of the substance came as a result not of making it illegal but rather a result of this tax being added to the cost of the substance, making the cost to consumer too high for recreational use.  Truly, the legalization of marijuana seems like a”blast from the past” in this “back to the future” scenario.
  1.  How familiar are you with uncontrolled vomiting?  – Did you know that pot can cause paranoia?  While this is probably a well known fact, the fact that it can also cause a condition called hyperemesis syndrome may not be common knowledge.  F.Y.I , any word containing “emesis” means vomiting and, yes, in 2011 doctors reported an additional potential side effect of marijuana use.  It is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome and generally it is said to have three phases, beginning with morning nausea and abdominal cramping and progressing to vomiting up to 5 times an hour, a condition which can have a duration of 1 or 2 days.  It can be so severe that it can take a chronic user who suffers from this syndrome days, weeks or months to recover. Stopping cannabis use can prevent repeat episodes.
  1.  Legalizing can mean changes in methods of consumption.  Since November 2016, several states joined other states who had previously approved recreational use of marijuana.  Those approving states were (in 2016): California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington. A non-representative poll of about 2,800 users was done to determine what method was used to partake of marijuana.  It was found that vaping and ingestion of edibles was becoming more prevalent in those states in which marijuana was approved for recreational use. As more time passes after legalization, the numbers of pot shops will likely continue to increase which will lead to increases in the numbers of users utilizing the vaping and ingesting of edibles as methods to get their fix.  

Next time, we’ll finish up our list of 25 unusual and odd things about marijuana.  It is our hope that you have gained some new knowledge about marijuana and its effects on the human body.  In the meantime, we urge you to get established with a dental professional who can evaluate and monitor the oral health of each member of your family.  Dr Scharf wants to be be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.  

Marijuana Use and Gum Disease: Are They Related? Part 3

Hello, again to all of our faithful followers as well as to those of you who are new readers!  For those returning readers, it is pretty common knowledge that Dr. Scharf is a Periodontist in Long Island who educates his readers as well as his patients about all things dental, especially as they may apply to their overall general health.  If you are new to this blog, welcome to you and we are inviting you to follow along as we learn some things you may not have known before, as we get into part 3 of a new article series which covers marijuana use and gum disease.   Let’s get started, shall we?

Our Last Segment

In our last segment, we began a discussion about twenty-five interesting and unusual facts about marijuana.  We also discussed briefly why some of these things, as well as other things, may be important to you — mainly because more and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical use while others are going a step further to legalize it for non-medical uses.  Since the use of this cannabis is becoming more prevalent, we feel that you should know as much about it as possible, especially if you or a loved one are currently involved or plan to become involved in its use. We can never know too much about what we’re putting into our bodies.

More of the Interesting and Unusual 25

  1.   Naming the Strains – For those readers who are wine drinkers, you can likely appreciate having a particular taste for the various types of wines on the market.  For the appreciator of marijuana, the various “tastes” of marijuana which can be utilized can be a matter of preference as well. I’ll bet most of you didn’t even know there were “varieties” of marijuana…I sure didn’t!  So, are the varieties so because of the difference between the marijuana plants used? Well, sort of…the location from which the cannabis is received is also part of the process. Basically, names like “purple haze, “chocolope” and “green crack” have traditionally been associated with marijuana, but those weird names come simply from a “brainstorming” session that occurs after the strain is developed and done, they call up friends, smoke and come up with a name for it.  It’s certainly not very scientific, but I guess it works…
  1.   Is the “high” in the air? There are probably places where you’d expect to see a “pot haze” over the city or a specific area, but those Grateful Dead concerts or those rallies in support of marijuana legalization aren’t the ones to which we refer.  What about the air around the Roman Colosseum or the Pantheon? Would you expect to see it there? Well, for your edification, in 2012, the air around Rome was tested and it contained traces of marijuana in the air. Cities like Rome, Bologna, Florence, Naples, Milan, Turin, Verona and Palermo were also tested and other psychotropic substances like cocaine, nicotine and caffeine were also found.  Before you freak out about your safety as you travel to these cities, we must share the fact that scientists are assuring us that, at this time, those substances are not being found in high enough concentrations to affect human health.
  1.   Marijuana in your baby’s soap? Well, probably not, but in 2012 in the state of North Carolina, increases in newborn babies who were testing positive for marijuana in their urine caused some alarm.  This was a concern because it meant that, potentially, the moms were smoking … a situation which lead to the involvement of social services. Further investigation revealed that the positive tests were coming from ingredients in baby soaps which were responsible for the false positives…the moms weren’t using…the babies were just soapy!
  1.  How green is your marijuana? Did you know that to grow 2.2 pounds of marijuana indoors takes as much energy as that which is required to drive a car, which gets 44 miles to the gallon, across the country five times!  While the plants can be grown outdoors to reduce its carbon footprint (and make it greener), the demand for the product precludes that type of growing year round … and … those grow lights consume a great deal of energy!
  1.  Skin contact can cause health issues – Workers in Albania were found to suffer from intestinal, flu-like symptoms after prolonged skin contact by the harvesting and packaging marijuana by hand. Also, the endangered spotted owl in Mendocino, California have also been found dead from the rat poison that is being put out by those growing the plant illegally in isolated areas.
  1.  Marijuana is getting stronger – Did you know that growers are cultivating “higher octane” strains of marijuana?  In 2016, researchers measured the non-psychoactive compounds as well as the psychoactive compounds in over 38,000 seized samples of the cannabis from 1995 to 2014 and found that the non-psychoactive compounds had decreased while the psychoactive compounds had increased over 14 times since 1995.  This means that the THC (psychoactive compound), which accelerates the effects of the marijuana, can cause increased side effects as well as increase the price of the weed.
  1.  At the heart of cardiac controversy – It is true that you really can’t overdose on marijuana like is possible with other drugs, like heroin or cocaine.  However, there is some controversy which has been raised by German researchers about how it can affect the heart and cardiac system.  This controversy came after two young men in their 20’s, who  were otherwise healthy without any history of cardiac problems, died suddenly with either marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia on their person. As one would expect, the research will go on to see if a true relationship exists.

We’ve only gotten halfway through the list and, wow, is this some interesting and unusual stuff, or what? The world of marijuana and how its use affects the human body is still being explored, with more information becoming available every year.  What’s not still being explored is the importance of getting established and maintaining a regular home dental regimen which is supported by the services of dental professional. Dr Scharf wants to be be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.  

Marijuana Use and Gum Disease: Are They Related? Part 2

Welcome back to all of our faithful followers as well as to our new readers!  If you are a  returning reader, we don’t have to tell you that Dr. Scharf is a Periodontist in Long Island who enjoys educating his readers as well as his patients about all things dental, especially as they may apply to their overall general health.  For those of you who are new to this blog, we welcome you and invite you to follow along as we learn some things you may not have known before, as we get into part 2 of a new article series which covers marijuana use and gum disease.  So, without further ado,  let’s get started, shall we?

A Brief Review

Before we get into part 2, let’s briefly review part 1… in part 1 we talked briefly about the new year and some changes that many of us across this great country are facing … things like changes in gun control rules and regulations, cell phone use while driving and American minimum wage increases.  We also mentioned a change, for those in some areas, which could have an effect on your overall general health — specifically the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana.  We explained that the purpose of this article series is to acquaint you, and those you love, with some things which have been shown to affect the human body with cannabis use.

Some Interesting “Did You Know” Facts About Marijuana

While researching for this article series, I came across some interesting, and perhaps unusual, facts about marijuana that I would like to share with you.  Some of them may be as new to you as they were to me, while others may be quite familiar.  But, before we get into the list of interesting facts, I’d like to point out a couple of facts which may help you understand why this series is important:

  • First, recently, several states voted to approve the previously illegal use of marijuana for recreational purposes.  The states that now have legalized marijuana for recreational use are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington and the District of Columbia
  • Second, these states are not alone in their legalization of a previously illegal substance, as there are also 21 states who have already (or who have recently) legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes.  

So, with now almost 30 of our states in the good old USA having passed legislation legalizing some type of use of a previously illegal substance, the problems which have been identified in research studies may be more important than ever before.  

Now, the List

Now, to the list of 25 interesting marijuana facts, which are not in any particular order of importance or concern.  We won’t get them all today, but we’ll cover them in subsequent parts of this article series:

  • Mythical origins:  While the exact origins are quite clouded, there seems to be some references made to cannabis use in ancient Chinese history, and, though the human user could not be positively identified, there are pieces of Taiwanese pottery and other artworks on which fibers of hemp were used decoratively approximately 10,000 years ago.

 

  • Unusual uses for hemp: It seems that Marijuana is not just used for smoking … or at least it hasn’t always been used in this way.  Historically, Marijuana fibers have also been used for fabric-making and for rope-making.  Researchers have substantiated the strength in hemp fiber ropes in the research done into how the ancients moved the 9,600 lb. heads of stone found on Easter Island from their quarries to the places in which they have currently been found.
  • Differences between hemp and pot: While the fibers from the hemp plant are great for making fabrics and ropes, they really aren’t great for smoking.  Why is this, you ask?  It seems that what we call industrial hemp plants are the same species as marijuana, but the industrial hemp plant doesn’t seem to produce a substance called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) which is a necessary ingredient in the production of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which provides the psychoactive experience.
  • Gender differences: Researchers have studied marijuana use in rats, using both male and female rats, they found that the females get a stronger pain-killing effect from the cannabis than males, but this also leads to development of a sensitivity to the substance with addiction as a result.They theorize the reason for the difference is the hormone estrogen, making the effects even stronger during ovulation when estrogen is at its highest in the female gender of any species.
  • Can your pet use marijuana? This may seem like a stupid question, but, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, many pet owners are already using this cannabis to help their suffering dogs and cats, with them experiencing some benefit for a few hours.  They do, however, caution any pet owners considering this cannabis use, pot can be deadly to your pet if ingested in large quantities.
  • Marijuana and heart issues? There is a great deal of debate over the medical effects in the longer term with marijuana use and much of it seems to center around the effects it has on the brain.  But in 2014, some researchers looked into how the cannabis affects the heart.  They used over 2,000 recorded medical complications in France and found that about 2% involved a variety of heart issues, with 9 of those actually resulting in fatal heart attacks!  While this study didn’t seek to ascertain the “why” behind these occasional incidents, it was felt that, because marijuana is known to increase heart rates and blood pressures, it is possible that someone who is already prone to heart issues could suffer increased cardiac risks.

 

What’s Next

In our next segment, we’ll cover more of these interesting and unusual facts about marijuana.  In the meantime, we urge you to avail yourself of the expertise of a dental professional, like Dr. Scharf, to evaluate and treat gum disease in you and other members of your family.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in the role, he can help.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

 

Marijuana Use and Gum Disease: Are They Related? Part 1

Happy New Year to all of our faithful followers as well as to those new readers who are with us today! For those returning readers, we don’t have to tell you that Dr. Scharf is a Periodontist in Long Island who enjoys educating his readers as well as his patients about all things dental, especially as they may apply to their overall general health.  In this vein, we invite our returning readers, as well as our new readers, to follow along with us as we begin a new article series which covers marijuana use and gum disease.  So let’s get started, shall we?

Changes for 2018

For some areas, the new year ushers in a variety of changes as well as new rules and regulations of which we now must be aware.  Some of those new rules and regulations may involve the carrying of a firearm, or phone use while driving or even changes in the minimum wage for American workers.  One such change, for some areas of the United States, involves legalization of recreational marijuana.  You may feel that this isn’t a new topic for you, especially in view of the fact that several states have recently voted to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with some of those states still finding themselves in the midst of policy and procedure development needed to facilitate its use … for medical purposes.  But for other states, marijuana use for recreational purposes is a brand new issue with which the various State and local departments and agencies must deal … with a fair amount of policy and procedure development also being needed to facilitate the legalization of a substance which has heretofore been outlawed.  

So, Why the Hype?

Yes, to be sure, things are “a changin” all over the place!  So, you may be wondering why all the hype about marijuana…isn’t it something that just makes you feel good and surely that can’t be a bad thing, right?  Perhaps not!  Before medical marijuana use was approved, there was a fair amount of research that went into those approvals and not all of it resulted in data to support a hands down positive medical benefit for marijuana use, especially over the the long term.  The studies and research which was conducted for marijuana in the medical realm were very controlled and carefully monitored with specific dosing being done and specific disease processes being looked at.  When it comes to marijuana for recreational purposes, all of that control goes out the window.  While the studies do not emphatically prove that gum disease is caused by frequent marijuana use, it does cause medical and dental professionals to pause and consider the long term effects of marijuana use on a variety of health conditions as well as oral health in individuals of different age groups.

What’s Ahead

Marijuana is only one of several cannabis substances that are being used which can cause increased gum disease risks…hashish and hash oil have also been found in the increased gum disease risk arena.  In the weeks ahead, we will dig more deeply into this topic, offering some interesting and odd facts about marijuana, some of which you may not be familiar, as well as getting down to the basics of some of the results of previous marijuana research.  You can expect to learn more about weight gain, brain injury and, for the guys, that dreaded erectile dysfunction issue (just to name a few areas of concern).  In the meantime, please allow us to stress the importance of getting established with a dental professional who can evaluate and monitor your oral health…whether you’re a marijuana (medical or recreational) user or not.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in the role, he can help to identify, treat and monitor gum disease in any stage of development for your entire family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease? Part 4

Greetings, returning readers and those of you who are new readers!  We’re so happy you chose to join us today for the next sub-topic in our newest article series on the topic of pregnancy and periodontal disease.  If you have been following this blog for any period of time, you’re already very well aware that Dr. Scharf is a Periodontist  who likes to educate his readers and patients in areas of general health as they are related to oral health, his realm of expertise.  And so, we welcome new readers to join us as we take this topic in small bite sized pieces in the hope that you will learn something new or be able relate some old information to pregnancy.  So, if you’ll follow along, we’ll get today’s started on sub-topic of how to avoid periodontal disease and the complications it has for your unborn child.

Infection in the Gums – What It Is

As we have already shared, you know that gum disease is an infection which has taken up residency in your gums, festered and grown within your gums, has gotten into the bloodstream and then transported throughout your body and, ultimately for those who are pregnant, throughout the body of your unborn baby.  This infection didn’t happen overnight but has, instead, taken a period of time to develop into something that needs to be treated as soon as possible.  

How Did It Begin?

It began as seemingly harmless bacteria which found its way into your mouth by a variety of routes (eating, drinking, old nasty toothbrushes, insertion of foreign objects, etc.), and, once in this warm, moist and perfect environment, has found a niche in which to nest, grow and replicate. The replication of the bacterial inhabitants signals your immune system that something foreign is present and kicks it into gear.  The immune system’s response to this “invader” is inflammation and it is designed to aid in healing or eradicating the “invader”.  

How Does It Progress?

Since the “invader” has hidden itself in the hundreds of tiny cracks and crevices in your mouth, your normal toothbrushing can’t get at it to remove the irritants that are causing the inflammatory response.  Some of these cracks and crevices are not even very reachable with your normal flossing techniques, making it even harder for those with even the best of oral hygiene practices to eliminate all of them.  A dental hygienist has some interesting tools of the trade which, when used appropriately, can more successfully get at these hidden irritants and remove them.  This is what is happening when you have your teeth “cleaned” professionally.

Then Where’s the Problem?

By this time, I can imagine you’re wondering why there is a problem.  The problem occurs when you don’t get regular checkups and dental cleanings so the irritants and infection can’t be removed and treated.  Once the infection develops to a certain stage, it gets into the very vascular network that inhabits your oral tissues, into the bloodstream, and that same infection is transported to all parts of your body (and your baby’s if you’re pregnant) and wreaks havoc in every major organ and tissue type it touches.

Your dental professional can treat the gum disease quite successfully, whether it’s gingivitis (the earliest stage of the disease) or whether it’s severe periodontitis, though the more severe the case, the harder and longer it takes to get under control.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island, and he can provide the treatment you need.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease? Part 3

Greetings to our returning readers as well as to those of you who are new readers!  We’re so glad that you chose to join us today for the next sub-topic in our newest article series on the topic of pregnancy and periodontal disease.  If you have been following this blog for any period of time, you already know that Dr. Scharf likes to educate his readers and patients in areas of general health as they are related to oral health, his realm of expertise.  We welcome those of you who are new readers and encourage you to follow along with the subsequent segments as we take this topic in small bite sized pieces in the hope that you will learn something new or be able relate some old information to pregnancy.  So, if you’ll follow along, we’ll get today’s started on sub-topic of low birth weight.

Risks of Low Birth Weight

What are the health risks to having a baby with a low birth rate?  Studies are showing that mothers with active gum disease are apt to deliver babies earlier than full term or to deliver babies that have a low birth rate than mothers who have healthy gums.  Per the findings of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, babies who are born weighing less than 5.5 pounds are predisposed to higher risks of long-term health problems like delayed motor skill development, delayed social growth and learning disabilities.  These same potential health risks are present for babies delivered pre-term, at least 3 weeks (less than 37 weeks gestation) earlier than term.  Additionally, pre-term birth problems can include respiratory problems, vision and / or hearing loss, and feeding / digestive problems.

How Does This Happen?

Basically, gum disease is defined as an inflammatory reaction within the oral tissues which, if left untreated, progresses to an infection state.  During pregnancy, the bacteria at the root of this infection, due to the higher hormonal levels that are present during pregnancy, are allowed entry into the blood vessels which have become more permeable.  The bacterial infection then travels at breakneck speed through the body in the bloodstream, into every tissue type, organ and system in its path.  That same bloodstream flows through the umbilical cord and the tissue which surrounds your baby in the womb, allowing that bacteria the opportunity to wreak havoc in your helpless unborn child.  This process affects how your baby develops in the womb as well as when birth occurs and the risks mentioned above could affect your child for a lifetime.

What Can You Do To Prevent This?

This is a serious situation for the life within you who has no choices or options of protecting itself.  It is your responsibility, as the mother and protector of your child, to take steps to get yourself healthy and maintain that improved health throughout the term of your pregnancy…all for the sake of that helpless unborn child.  Gum disease is a condition which affects a large percentage of people and it is one which can be treated and managed successfully.  That being said, your first step should be to establish with a dental professional who can help.  Dr. Scharf wants to be  your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in you and other members of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease? Part 2

Greetings to our returning readers and to those of you who are new readers!  We’re so happy that you joined us today for the next segment on our newest article series on the topic of pregnancy and periodontal disease.  For those of you who have been following this blog for any period of time, you already know that Dr. Scharf likes to educate his readers and patients in areas of general health because they are related to oral health, his realm of expertise.  We welcome those of you who are new readers and encourage you to follow along with the subsequent segments as we take this topic in small bite sized pieces in the hope that you will learn something new or be able relate some old information to pregnancy.  So, if you’ll follow along, we’ll get today’s segment started.

A Brief Review

As you may recall from part 1, our previous segment, we started with the basics of what periodontal and gum diseases are, explaining that they are rooted in bacterial induced inflammation which, when left untreated, can eat away at all of the oral tissues, especially those bony structures which support your teeth.  We mentioned that not all bacteria is bad, stressing that the body needs good bacteria function properly.  We explained some of the consequences of the bad bacterial growth that remains unchecked and listed some major diseases and health conditions which can result from this unchecked bad bacteria.  We also mentioned two specific conditions which have a direct impact on pregnancy and the health of the onboard baby…low birth weight and preterm births.  Today, our topic of discussion in this series is pre-term birth.

What Is Meant By “Pre-term” Birth?  

Just to assure that we’re all on the same page, let me briefly define this term.  It is basically a delivery which occurs earlier than 37 weeks of gestation.  Pre-term births, also referred to as premature births, continue to increase each year, compromising the health of the newborn as well as the mother.  Your baby needs 37 weeks of gestation to ensure that all systems, organs and tissue types have ample opportunity for development and growth so they’re able to safely support the vital functions of your infant after birth.  Any birth which occurs prior to 37 weeks of gestation decreases or interferes with the body’s normal development process of your onboard infant, increasing the health risks both immediately after birth and potentially for life of your child.  

What Causes Pre-term Birth?

The bacterial occupation in the oral tissues that we talked about in part 1 occurs in most of us.  The problem exists when that bacterial infection gets mixed up with hormonal swings that accompany the various stages of pregnancy.  The increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which is circulating in the bloodstream, has an effect on the periodontal system and the maternal immune system which work together to promote inflammation.  Studies are showing that this periodontal infection can lead to placental issues and subsequent fetal issues, causing an early delivery, potentially before some vital systems are completely developed. Additionally, animal studies strongly suggest that there is a link between maternal periodontal infection and adverse effects on the infant’s long term development after birth.

In our next segment, we will discuss low birth weight and its relationship to pregnancy and periodontal disease.  In the meantime, it is vital for everyone to establish with a dental professional who can provide ongoing, routine dental care…especially if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can identify and treat gum and periodontal disease in every member of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.