Do Cannabinoids Belong in Toothpaste?

teeth

CBD dental care is definitely moving from the fringe to the mainstream. But is CBD beneficial for our teeth or is it all marketing?

When Colgate purchased Hello Oral Care, a company that produces CBD infused toothpaste and mouthwash, eyebrows were raised. Is this a cynical ploy to sell a more expensive product – or do CBD’s health benefits extend to oral care?

One thing that no one is contesting is that preventative oral healthcare is a huge issue. According to the World Health Organization, oral diseases pose a major global health burden. Over 3.5 billion people suffering from a whole range of oral conditions, with cavities being by far the most common problem. 

It’s also important to point out that the negative impacts of poor dental health go well beyond just having bad teeth. Oral wellness impacts overall health, employment, and well-being. The disconnect we often think of between our mouths and the rest of our bodies just doesn’t exist. 

At present, CBD is at the forefront of novel dental products that promise to do more for your mouth than the standard formulations that have traditionally dominated the market. In these new products, fluoride is being pushed aside as the primary active ingredient.

Partly this move to more complex CBD products can be explained by the saturation of the CBD market. There are, after all, only so many ways to market a bottle of CBD oil (and we’ve seen them all). Infusing products like toothpaste with CBD obviously banks on the popularity of the substance, but does it actually add any real value to the product?

Well, maybe. The American Dental Association continues to give cannabis a pretty negative report when it comes to oral health, though it acknowledges that “concomitant use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; poor oral hygiene practices; and infrequent visits to dentists” make it difficult to parse out what is due to cannabis use itself.

The future of the CBD industry seems to lie in infusing products that directly target different consumer issues. Oral healthcare may seem like a stretch, but some researchers see potential in the anti-microbial activity of cannabinoids.

This may change, though. New studies have begun to point to the potential of cannabinoids like CBD for oral health. The first of these, led by researchers in Belgium “compared the efficacy of oral care products and cannabinoids in reducing the bacterial content of dental plaques.”

The study procedure involved collecting plaque from the teeth of sixty adults. Each person’s plaque was divided between petri dishes that had been prepared with CBD, CBC, CBN, CBG, CBGA, Oral B, Colgate, and Cannabite F (a toothpaste formulation of pomegranate and algae).

After incubating the dishes, researchers evaluated the colony count of the dental bacteria and found that cannabinoids performed markedly better than both commercial toothpastes. CBD, CBN, and CBC were particularly effective.

A second study, also published in 2020, compared cannabinoid-infused (CBD and CBG) mouthwashes to two over-the-counter mouthwashes (one of which utilized alcohol and essential oils and the other, fluoride). Again, cannabinoids were the clear winners when it came to antimicrobial activity.

A couple of caveats are necessary here. Promising results aside, both of these studies were “in vitro” meaning they took place in Petri dishes. The results have yet to be tested on humans. And even in these studies, the efficacy of cannabinoids ranged depending on the bacterial composition of each individual. 

It’s also a good idea to point out that Veronica Stahl, one of the main authors of both studies has a direct connection to a company that is formulating oral healthcare products. So, while that doesn’t negate the findings, it does point to the need for further research.

The health of our teeth is a big deal. According to the UIC College of Dentistry, there are ”many connections between oral health and chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other serious conditions.” But most oral problems are preventable. CBD dental care isn’t going to fix the macro-level problems with dental care in the US, but it could be one piece in the puzzle.

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