This article assesses the anti-bacterial efficacy of cannabinoids compared to commercial toothpaste types, in relation to oral and dental health. Guess which ones win?
We are discussing the following topics:
Dental plaque is a biofilm layer that sticks to the teeth in the mouth and collects microbes. Plaques form as saliva combines with food and other fluids on the surface of the teeth.
The thousands of bacteria in dental plaque convert food particles into acidic substances that cause dental erosion and gum diseases. Dental problems affect millions of people, and as such they amount to a considerable public health problem. For example, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults.
To prevent dental diseases, people need to exercise dental hygiene and remove dental plaque:
However, as bacteria are the real cause of dental diseases, antimicrobial and antibacterial agents are the most effective chemical tools in dentistry. As a matter of fact, most commercially available toothpastes supposedly contain such antimicrobials. In addition, natural toothpastes include herbal extracts that also have antimicrobial properties.
Watch this 1:44 minute video by Lapointe dental centres on how dental plaque forms
Cannabinoids showed antimicrobial properties in the laboratory and Petri dishes. For example, CBD can kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and is also effective against yeast and gram-positive bacteria, and potentially also against gram-negative bacteria.
The majority of bacteria that cause dental plaques are gram positive. Nevertheless, there are some gram-negative and anaerobic bacteria as well that cause dental plaques.
Moreover, studies have shown that certain cannabinoids modify the structure of the cell membrane of the bacteria. As such, they prevent the formation of bacterial biofilms.
However, the evidence of using cannabinoids as dental care products is very sparse. The study that we are reporting in this article is the first to compare the effect of cannabinoids with the effect of commercial toothpastes.
Altogether 60 adults, who were not taking antibiotic or other medications at that time, participated in the study. Dentists assessed their periodontal conditions before the study.
After washing their mouths with water, technicians collected plaques samples from participants. Then they smeared the plaque samples onto Petri dishes. The plaque samples received altogether 8 different treatments (five cannabinoids and three toothpastes):
The scientists then used standard bacterial incubation techniques for a duration of 24 hours. After that, they counted how many bacterial colonies grew in each of the eight groups for each of the participating people.
Watch this 0:29 minute time lapse video by Monster in a can on how bacteria grow in a Petri dish
The highest number of colonies grew after the Oral B treatment, regardless of the dental hygiene status of the person. This means that Oral B was the least efficient of all the 8 treatment options.
On the other hand, the smallest number of colonies grew after CBN, CBC, CBD, CBG, and CBGA treatments.
However, there was a large variation between the samples of the patients, meaning that for certain patients one treatment was either much more or much less effective than the average. For example, while the average number of plaques for Oral B was 20 in one oral health group, one person had only 4 while anther one had 35.
All in all, the more severe a patient’s periodontal condition was, the less effective commercial toothpastes were and the more effective cannabinoids were.
In this study, cannabinoids were more effective anti-microbials and therefore reduced dental plaque-forming bacterial growth much better than commercial or (non-cannabinoid type) herbal toothpastes.
This study was unique in that the researchers used actual patients’ plaque samples. As such, this is more of a real-life study than prior studies that used isolated individual bacteria strains that may or may not form dental plaques.
As this study shows, there is a lot of diversity among individual people not only in terms of their dental and oral health status, but also regarding the composition of their oral bacterial populations. This is probably the explanation why certain patients’ samples were so different from the average sample.
What this suggests is that a personalized approach to oral care that incorporates the bacterial composition of patients’ individual oral biofilms might be more appropriate than a general blanket oral health suggestion.
This study highlighted that even though people might be consistently using commercial products to prevent dental diseases, these products might not bring those results that the users expect. As such, many commercial toothpastes appear to lack the effect that they might claim.
Furthermore, the study has also shown that cannabinoids have tremendous potential also in oral and dental health care and in the prevention of dental diseases such as caries and periodontitis.
Stahl V, Vasudevan K. Comparison of Efficacy of Cannabinoids versus Commercial Oral Care Products in Reducing Bacterial Content from Dental Plaque: A Preliminary Observation. Cureus. 2020 Jan 29;12(1):e6809