Why Use CBD Oil Toothpaste and Mouthwash: The Science Explained
The country is experiencing a huge boom in CBD oil research and, not surprisingly, found the natural compound may offer more health benefits than anyone ever imagined. You’ve likely heard that CBD oil toothpaste and mouthwash can help eliminate gum disease and prevent cavities too. What started off as a bit of a fringe science is gaining major traction and now there are dozens of studies examining the mechanisms behind its ability to improve oral health. Research shows that it has antibacterial properties, reduces inflammation, aids in remineralization, can help fight cavities, and more. How exactly does it work though?
On this page, we’ll break down the basic conditions that lead to good oral health, how our everyday lives contribute to disease, and how CBD oil restores balance while fighting gum disease and decay.
A Happy and Healthy Mouth is Balanced
Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. Research presented by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) concludes that about half of all people say it’s the most memorable aspect of a person, 45% agree it’s the most attractive feature people have, and three-quarters confirm it impacts career success. Many address this through the lens of cosmetic dentistry, but it actually starts with good oral health.
Healthy Mouths Have Bacteria
Most people have 250-300 different strains of bacteria in their mouth at any given time. Certain bacteria may cause bad breath and disease as there are 500-700 which can take up residence, per National Institutes of Health (NIH) data. Some strains are necessary for digestion and others, like Streptococcus salivarius K12, actually release substances which keep unfriendly bacteria at bay according to the Scientific American.A Neutral pH Contributes to Strong Teeth and Healthy Gums
The pH scale is used in chemistry to measure whether a substance is an acid or a base. It typically ranges from 1-14, with substances below a 7.0 being more acidic and those above being more alkaline. A few scales dip below 1.0 to indicate very strong acids, like battery acid, which has a pH of 0. When it comes to overall health of the body, people generally want a pH close to 7.0, which is neutral or balanced. Most researchers believe that a pH of 6.2 - 7.6 can be considered “normal,” with a 7.06 being the average pH in healthy populations. People with pH levels that veer too much one way or the other in relation to normal tend to have more oral problems. For example, those who drop into the acidic range, with an average pH of 6.85, typically have generalized periodontitis (advanced gum disease), while those who rate higher into the alkaline range and have an average pH of 7.24 usually have generalized gingivitis (early-stage gum disease).
Saliva Bathes Teeth in Fortifying Minerals
Saliva works miracles in a healthy mouth. Saliva is comprised of over 99% water, but it also contains important microorganisms and minerals that create the proper environment of your mouth; healthy saliva means strong teeth, happy gums, and fresh breath. On the one hand, mineral-rich saliva helps remineralize teeth, but the pH plays into this too. “A saliva pH of 7.0 usually indicates a healthy dental and periodontal situation,” says Dr. Sharmila Baliga, Department of Periodontology and Implantology, M.A. Rangoonwala College of Dental Sciences and Research Centre. “At this pH, there is a low incidence of dental decay.”
When Balance is Lost, Disease Takes Hold
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to upset the apple cart. When balance is lost, it produces a bit of a snowball effect, with detrimental conditions building upon one another to create disease and decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of all Americans over age 30 have some form of periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is the Early Stage of Gum Disease
When people have gingivitis, they tend to notice minor signs, like inflamed gums, bleeding while brushing and flossing, and sensitive gums. Bad breath usually appears at this stage too. All this is caused by the presence of “bad bacteria” in the mouth, which adheres to the teeth and gums. This is often referred to as biofilm or plaque. Brushing and flossing can help remove bacteria when it’s soft, but if it’s left intact, irritation and localized infections may result. Eventually, the harmful bacteria hardens and becomes tartar, which dental professionals also refer to as calculus. Tartar cannot be removed at home, which is why it’s important to visit a dentist for regular cleanings. As tartar builds, it spreads across the tooth and even builds below the gumline.
Advanced Gum Disease is Referred to as Periodontitis or Periodontal Disease
People with periodontal disease experience a number of symptoms, ranging from those of basic gingivitis through gum recession, loose teeth, and bone loss. In these cases, the combination of irritation and tartar buildup create “angry gums.” The gums pull away from the tooth, resulting in pockets. The pockets collect more bacteria and develop advanced infections. This causes the bone around trouble spots to be resorbed by the body. Ultimately, teeth become loose and may even fall out. Thankfully, treatment exists for advanced gum disease—dentists and hygienists can remove the buildup and administer medications to treat the infections. However, bone loss can only be repaired through surgery.
Our Normal Daily Lives Contribute to Poor Oral Health
Most of us in the modern world live busy lives, and that makes it harder for us to control the conditions that determine our oral health. We actively engage in a number of habits that cause disease and decay.
We Kill Good Bacteria with Mouthwashes and Toothpastes
Earlier, we touched on some of the “good bacteria” that contribute to oral health, but obviously, not all bacteria are good. Most dental products try to eradicate Streptococcus mutans, also referred to as S. mutans. The concept is sound, as S. mutans metabolizes simple sugars and fermentable carbohydrates, which turns them into acids. The acid then attacks our enamel and removes minerals—a process known as demineralization. Once the enamel is weakened, cavities can form. Eradicating bacteria, in theory, would also reduce inflammation, but that’s not necessarily what happens in practice.
“Many current treatments do not improve oral ecology—in fact, they might make matters worse,” says Scientific American’s Franklin. “Although some mouthwashes merely mask unpleasant odors, alcohol-based rinses sold in drugstores and prescription rinses containing chlorhexidine or other antiseptics target all oral bacteria, stinky and otherwise.” This results in a multifaceted problem. On a low level, people often report these mouthwashes and toothpastes impact the taste of food or create tingling and burning of the mouth. Alcohol-based solutions also dry out tissues, which can increase bad breath and contribute to disease as well. Perhaps more alarmingly, these products destroy the good bacteria which keep the bad in check allowing bacteria responsible for infections and disease the opportunity to flourish.
We Alter Our pH with Diet and Poor Oral Care
Studies show that black coffee has a pH of 5, while soda and citrus fruits range from 2-3.5, and sports drinks and flavored waters tend to sit in the 2-3 range. Although a quick drink isn’t likely to instantaneously change the pH of your saliva, it can certainly tip the scales, even more so if you sip on your favorite acidic beverages or eat throughout the day. With oral pH veering into the acidic category, the minerals which make up teeth and keep them strong are lost and the perfect environment for decay is created. Failure to remove plaque on a regular basis plays into this too. As noted earlier, certain strains of bacteria create an acidic environment, which results in demineralization.
Our Teeth Demineralize and We Don’t Replenish, Resulting in Cavities
Our teeth are in a continuous state of flux, with minerals departing as pH rises and remineralization occurring as our teeth are bathed in mineral-rich pH neutral saliva. “In addition to its cleansing and antibacterial action,” says Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering expert Dr. Ensanya Ali Abou Neel, “saliva acts as a constant source for calcium and phosphate that helps in maintaining supersaturation with respect to tooth minerals, therefore inhibiting tooth demineralization during periods of low pH, and they promote tooth remineralization when the pH returns to neutral state.”
The catch is, of course, we have to be able to get our mouth back to a neutral pH state for remineralization to occur. Unfortunately, as research presented in the British Dental Journal (BDJ) points out, many mouthwashes have a low pH, which means they create an acidic environment. Toothpaste doesn’t always fare better, with some whitening options dipping as low as 4.22, on the pH scale. In other words, the very things people do to improve their oral health actually can create an acidic environment and intensify demineralization, thus increasing decay risk.
Our Oral Health Impacts Our Overall Health
Earlier, we talked about the snowball effect associated with oral health. When one area is out of balance, the other areas become unbalanced too. This is true of your whole body—all systems interact with each other and can either contribute to wellness or disease. “For a long time it was thought that bacteria was the factor that linked periodontal disease to other diseases in the body; however, more recent research demonstrates that inflammation may be responsible for the association,” says the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). “Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.” Diabetes and heart disease have been linked to periodontal disease for some time, but experts are now finding links between oral health and osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and cancer too. The CDC further notes it’s a major concern for pregnant women. As many as 75% of all expectant mothers experience gingivitis, which is associated with preterm birth, low birth weight, and a number of additional poor pregnancy outcomes. In the general population, inflammation may be linked to everything from depression to Alzheimer’s Disease per studies conducted by the Cleveland Clinic. Clearly, no matter which stage of life you’re in, your overall health in undeniably linked to your oral health.
CBD Oil Shows Promise Across a Wide Breadth of Areas
CBD is NOT a Psychotropic Compound
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one compound naturally found in cannabis. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes it as “A phytocannabinoid derived from Cannabis species, which is devoid of psychoactive activity, with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic and chemopreventive activities.” Many people are more familiar with its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Both are present in cannabis, but THC is responsible for the high people get when consuming it, while CBD offers no high and has potential medical benefits. In fact, researchers believe that CBD actually counteracts THC, meaning those who consume CBD alongside THC will experience diminished effects from the THC. In the modern era, scientists have been able to split these two compounds apart and even grow strains of cannabis which are low in THC and high in CBD, offering medicinal benefits without the high effect.
The Medical Community is Researching a Wealth of Potential Benefits
To dig a little deeper, the benefits of CBD can be traced to something referred to as the “endocannabinoid system.” It doesn’t get a whole lot of press, but researchers caught wind of it in 1988 when they were studying rats. They realized within a few years that it was much more intensive than initially thought and is present in all mammals. It’s a natural system in our bodies designed to utilize CBD. In fact, your body makes its own cannabinoids and relies upon it to regulate countless other systems.
The body’s self-manufactured cannabinoids are referred to as “endocannabinoids,” and they’re a type of endogenous lipid. There are two types of endocannabinoids researchers have become familiar with; 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (AEA). These endocannabinoids activate specialized receptors throughout the body. The primary receptors are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. Whereas CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and central nervous system, meaning they impact functions like stress response, pain, memory, mood, and motor activity, the CB2 receptors are found throughout various organs, so they impact things like the immune, muscular, and cardiovascular systems.
There are more than 100 different cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, and these are referred to as phytocannabinoids. Both CBD and THC are considered phytocannabinoids. Most research suggests that phytocannabinoids simply take the place of endocannabinoids and directly activate receptors, but some literature suggests phytocannabinoids simply encourage the body to produce more of its own endocannabinoids and these activate the receptors.
In any case, CBD works with the endocannabinoid system and can therefore impact countless aspects of one’s overall health. Dr. Peter Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School lists it as a potential treatment for epilepsy, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, including inflammatory pain like arthritis and neuropathic pain, which are some of the most difficult to treat. He further notes that the FDA has already approved medications which include CBD—namely an anti-seizure prescription which was proven effective in patients with epilepsy.
CBD Addresses Oral Health on Many Fronts
With such a wide variety of applications, it’s not surprising that research is pointing toward a number of oral health benefits as well.
CBD Attacks “Bad” Bacteria
When mouthwashes and toothpaste with antibacterial properties are used, they typically kill the good and bad bacteria. That’s bad news because it takes time to build up the good bacteria which help fight decay and that your digestive system and gut rely upon. The “bad” bacteria comes back first and gets a stronghold. However, even agents known to be bactericidal aren’t always effective on all bacteria. One only has to look at the recent MRSA crisis to know this. When information that CBD has antibacterial properties emerged, a frenzy of research began to see which forms of bacteria it can kill. Again, in terms of tooth decay, it’s typically Streptococcus mutans that’s to blame, but Streptococcus sobrinus and other types of bacteria cause decay too. According to NIH research, CBD is bactericidal in relation to streptococci, meaning it kills the specific type of bacteria responsible for most cases of tooth decay.
Oral Inflammation May Be Reduced with the Help of Cannabinoids
Early research points to the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) in relation to reducing inflammation and indicates it may specifically assist with the inflammation associated with periodontal disease. Because scientists have known for quite some time that stress influences the body’s immune response, they’ve even gone so far as to test whether the endocannabinoid reduces the inflammation associated with periodontal disease while subjects are under stress. Subsequent rounds of testing confirm that it does. Because inflammation in one area of the body can impact other areas of the body, treating periodontal disease-related inflammation can also improve overall health too.
CBD Can Correct pH and Aid in Remineralization
When oral pH is within normal levels and is not acidic, teeth are primed to absorb the minerals in saliva. However, our oral pH plummets as we ingest carbohydrates (sugars, starch, cellulose) because lactic acid, butyric acid, and aspartic acids are created, causing, demineralization that can ultimately result in cavities. Because CBD eliminates some of the most damaging bacteria, an acidic environment is avoided and pH remains more stable, giving teeth the opportunity to remineralize if the CBD is delivered in a pH neutral environment. Toothpastes and mouthwashes which can create imbalance won’t see the same benefits.
Bone Loss May Be Reduced with CBD
Advanced periodontal disease often results in bone loss. Once bone loss occurs, it can only be repaired with surgery. Ergo, it’s essential to halt this process as quickly as possible. CBD may be beneficial here too, as studies have shown it slows bone loss associated with periodontal disease. Researchers saw a noticeable difference in bone loss with just 30 days of CBD therapy. While it may not stop the progression altogether, as treating the underlying disease is essential, it can help people buy more time as they take control of their oral health.
Want to Put CBD Toothpaste and Mouthwash to the Test?
CBD may not be ideal under all circumstances, so if you have questions about whether it’s right for you, have a conversation with your doctor before starting. When you’re ready to try it out for yourself, pick up CBD toothpaste and mouthwash from ORL. Our specially formulated oral care line is designed to bring your oral pH to a perfect 7.0, so your teeth can remineralize the natural way, and includes nourishing ingredients like cavity-fighting xylitol, fortifying vitamins and minerals, and plant-based essential oils such as cannabis sativa leaf oil and mint, giving you the fresh, healthy smile you deserve. And the best surprise of all is that the product really does taste great!