A new, preliminary study found that cannabinoids, compounds naturally found in cannabis, could prevent cavities and gum disease more effectively than most widely available toothpastes—but don’t stop brushing yet
Cannabis beats toothpaste? New research in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science reveals that the cannabinoids CBC, CBD, CBGA, CBG, and CBN killed more bacterial colonies in oral plaque than toothpaste brands Cannabite F, Colgate, and Oral B.
“Although commercially available oral care products are considerably effective in maintaining the oral hygiene of the average population, our study found that cannabinoids are substantially effective in reducing the colony count of the bacterial strains of the dental plaque as compared to the well-established synthetic oral care products such as Oral B and Colgate,” the researchers wrote.
Plaque, Disease, and Cannabis
What we call “plaque” is actually a complex biofilm—a sticky community of microorganisms that live in the mouth and form on teeth. Biofilms can exhibit uniquely robust resistance to removal and even antibiotics, making them an important problem for scientists.
Plaque is the source of several potentially serious diseases and dental problems, including bad breath, cavities, bleeding gums, and tooth decay and loss. It can also contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other systemic health issues.
The team collected samples of plaque from 60 healthy participants adults aged 18 to 45 years with sterile toothpicks. The researchers categorized the participants based on the Dutch periodontal screening index so their oral hygiene and health would be consistent.
They then spread the samples across petri dishes. The team next divided the dishes into quadrants and treated each quadrant with either one of the cannabinoids or one of the commercially-available brands of toothpaste.
On average, the five cannabinoids prevented the growth of bacteria better than any of the three toothpaste products.
The researchers concluded that, if cannabis beats toothpaste, cannabinoids have the potential to revolutionize dentistry and oral healthcare as well as the battle against infectious disease.
“Cannabinoids have the potential to be used as an effective antibacterial agent against dental plaque-associated bacteria. Moreover, it provides a safer alternative for synthetic antibiotics to reduce the development of drug resistance.”
Takeaways from the Cannabis and Plaque study
As we parse these results, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all: please don’t stop brushing your teeth today.
Next, the team didn’t conduct statistical analyses for their data, although for this kind of study that is a typical practice. They didn’t do this because they did not replicate the data, for one thing, which is partly why they call these results “preliminary.”
In addition, because each person’s mouth hosts a unique microbiotic environment, home to its own different bacterial strains, the team did not simply combine the data from all participants in each group. In other words, since there is so much variation in bacteria, they did not statistically generalize the results.
Furthermore, the sample size of 60 is smaller than would be ideal for a clinical trial. The team also studied both normal patients and participants with gingivitis and periodontitis. This suggests the need for additional studies over longer periods of time with randomized controls.
Nevertheless, these are exciting conclusions to foster other new research. And Merry Jane reports that the world is soon going to have access to CBD toothpaste—which, according to this, may be worth a try.