Cannabis – the family of plants that includes marijuana – has been used medicinally for thousands of years, yet only recently have we seen surging interest in how it may support healing.
It’s a trend that got a big boost from the 2018 Farm Bill, which created a legal distinction between marijuana and hemp. This got it removed from the Federal list of controlled substances, which finally opened the door to more research on its medicinal benefits.
While marijuana contains much more THC than hemp – the compound that gives you the feeling of being high – hemp contains high concentrations of a compound called cannabidiol. That “CBD” doesn’t get you high. But it is the stuff that may be helpful in treating a number of conditions, from anxiety to endocrine disorders, heart disease to pain, and plenty in between.
Some of its properties suggest that CBD oil may have roles it can play in dental care, as well.
For instance, its anti-inflammatory effects suggest that it could be an effective pain reliever. As one overview describes it,
Cannabinoids, such as CBD, attach themselves to specialized receptors in a person’s brain and immune system.
One of these receptors, called a CB2 receptor, plays a role in the immune system by managing pain and inflammation.
Researchers believe that when CBD enters a person’s body, it may attach to CB2 receptors. Alternatively, it may cause the body to produce natural cannabinoids that attach to the CB2 receptors.
Either way, scientists think CBD affects the way that these receptors respond to the signals that they receive, possibly helping reduce inflammation and pain.
That suggests that CBD oil could be helpful for treating periodontal disease, as well – itself an inflammatory condition linked to a wide variety of others, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and more.
Animal studies such as this one suggest that CBD may do even more than just reduce inflammation. Here, periodontitis – severe gum disease – was induced in lab rats, one group of which were given CBD. Their hard and soft oral tissues were later examined.
Those in the CBD group showed less loss of aveolar bone than the others. This is the bone that supports your teeth and that is gradually destroyed as gum disease progresses.
CBD may also reduce chronic stress, which is one of several risk factors for gum disease. (Smoking is the number one risk factor. Others include sleep debt and poor diet.) That, in turn, may reduce bruxing in folks who habitually clench or grind their teeth due to stress. (There are other causes of bruxing, as well.)
Similarly, CBD may help reduce dental anxiety – an issue that keeps up to 20% of adults from seeing the dentist as they should. The research thus far is compelling, suggesting a role for CBD in treating a wide range of anxiety disorders. One study of more than 100 adults published earlier this year found that anxiety scores dropped for most patients within a month of beginning CBD use “and remained decreased during the study duration.”
More, “CBD was well tolerated in all but 3 patients” in this study.
Certainly much more research needs to be – and is being – done now that some of the key barriers have been lowered. We especially hope to see more dental- and oral health-specific studies in the days to come.
There is much promise here – all from a humble but too-long-misunderstood plant.