CBD is praised for its ability to address different types of pain. For example, there are studies indicating that CBD may help reduce pain in cancer patients, but the analgesic potential of cannabidiol reaches far beyond such extreme cases. People are using it for less serious discomfort, such as toothaches and other dental problems.
Does CBD oil help with dental pain? To understand the link between these two, we need to take a closer look at the potential causes of toothaches. Then we’ll be able to provide the answer.
CBD Oil for Dental Pain & Toothaches
CBD modulates the activity of cannabinoid receptors, which are found in the central nervous system, immune system, and other organ systems. Through this interaction, CBD helps lower inflammation in the body, which is a common source of pain, including toothache. However, the cause of the pain should be diagnosed by a dentist. Simply using CBD for dental pain won’t solve your problem.
This section sheds light on all areas of use when it comes to CBD and dental health.
CBD Oil for Toothache: The Science
The research into the use of CBD for dental pain is scarce. One study from the University of Uberaba in Brazil analyzed the effects of CBD on dental bones of rats with induced periodontitis. The authors confirmed that the rats treated with CBD oil had less bone loss and lower inflammation markers than the control group (1).
Of course, it takes more than just one study to draw specific conclusions on this subject, so we’ll need to see more human trials before CBD becomes widely accepted among dental professionals.
However, in the meantime, lots of resources have been fueled into the research into CBD for relieving pain and inflammation caused by other health conditions.
According to a 2020 review published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, CBD is immune-suppressive and anti-inflammatory (2). Moreover, cannabinoids have been mentioned in the scientific literature as novel anti-inflammatories that could be used in the management of pain that is difficult to treat (3–4).
CBD Oil for Gum Disease: Does It Work?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease involves an infection of the gums triggered by the build-up of plaque around the teeth. That build-up is fueled by the bacteria that occupy the mouth. If left unattended, it can lead to pain, swelling, and bleeding in the gums. In extreme cases, it may even result in tooth loss.
CBD acts as a nutrient for the oral microbiome. The presence of CBD oil contributes to healthy bacterial diversity. In one study where a dental plaque was collected from patients and treated with active compounds in laboratory dishes, CBD did better at reducing plaque colonies than several types of toothpaste.
The latest research on gum disease indicates that it stems from an imbalance in the oral microbiome, and products containing CBD appear to be one of the potential solutions to the problem (5).
CBD for Tooth Sensitivity
Pain caused by tooth sensitivity comes from the outside, unlike a toothache, which originates inside the tooth. When the roots of the tooth become porous, the nerve inside gets sensitive. So if you eat ice cream or drink cold juice, it can make your teeth hurt. CBD is known for its ability to mitigate nerve pain, so it could potentially improve tooth sensitivity. However, it still remains a theory until human studies are conducted on this subject.
CBD for Cavities and Tooth Decay
Every time you eat food, the byproducts are metabolized by the bacteria in your mouth, which leads to lower pH levels. This can contribute to the demineralization of the teeth, which is how cavities form. Eating and drinking too often prevents the teeth from re-mineralizing or re-building their structure. Unfortunately, CBD isn’t able to directly stimulate remineralization because it’s not a building block for the process.
CBD for Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, or bruxism can be divided into two separate problems: daytime grinding and nighttime grinding. Daytime grinding often derives from stress or anxiety, so CBD may come in handy due to its anxiolytic and antidepressant-like properties. Nighttime grinding, in turn, is more of a mechanical issue, such as sleep apnea or a collapsing airway. CBD helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, so it may also reduce the grinding. However, it won’t fix or prevent a collapsed airway.
CBD for TMJ/TMD
This relatively new term refers to a clicking or popping sound in the temporomandibular joint that can cause much pain. The joint connects the jawbone to the skull. It can become inflamed due to a range of factors: a bad bite, teeth grinding, poor orthodontics, compromised facial development, trauma to the jaw, or sleep issues.
Although CBD oil doesn’t target the underlying cause of TMD, it may lower the inflammation in the joint and thus reduce the pain. In a randomized, double-blind trial published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, participants with TMD in the test group used topical CBD on the joints twice daily for two weeks, while patients in the controlled group applied a placebo ointment. At the end of the trial, the CBD group reported a 70% reduction in pain compared with just 10% relief in the placebo group (6).
Does CBD Cause Dry Mouth?
The dry mouth sensation is the universal side effect of all cannabis plants, including CBD-rich hemp. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the salivary glands, slowing down the secretion of saliva. This is a problem for people with dental pain because salivation plays a vital role in cleaning your teeth, keeping their minerals concentrated, and preventing cavities.
Fortunately, you can fix the dry mouth with a few simple tricks. You can drink more water or use a mouthwash to facilitate saliva production. Gum containing xylitol also increases the amount of saliva in the mouth. Steer clear of tea, coffee, and alcohol, as they are known for making the dry mouth worse.
What Causes Toothaches?
The majority of toothache cases are caused by an infection inside the tooth known as pulpitis. The middle of the tooth, which is where the nerves and blood vessels are found, becomes soft and pulpy. The nerves enable us to feel the touch and temperature through the teeth, so when the pulp is damaged or infected, we begin to feel pain.
Infections are actually one of the biggest causes of toothaches. They affect both the gums and surrounding bones, causing much damage if left neglected. When the tooth is referred from another area of the body, such as ears or sinuses, this may also contribute to dental pain.
Long story short, causes of toothaches include:
- Gum disease
- Referred pain
- Tooth decay
Infrequent brushing and poor hygiene facilitate bacteria growth. Whenever you experience dental pain, it’s recommended to visit a dentist, especially if the toothache is long-lasting and severe. Moreover, professional check-ups and cleaning should be done every 6 months to prevent dental disease.
Now let’s examine the link between CBD and toothaches.
How to Use CBD for Dental Pain?
People report the most relief from toothache when using CBD topicals. Topical formulations are made for targeting localized discomforts. When CBD oil is absorbed through the gums, it interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the mouth, producing anti-inflammatory effects and mitigating pain signaling to the brain.
Here are some popular CBD products for dental pain.
CBD oil is the most common form of CBD. The hemp extract is suspended in an inert oil and applied using a dropper or atomizer under the tongue. You can also add a few drops of CBD oil to your toothbrush with your normal toothpaste. Rubbing the oil with a finger directly onto the painful area and surrounding gums is another way to deliver CBD oil to your system. Alternatively, you can use CBD tinctures, which are a mix of CBD extracts with alcohol. Tinctures are often available in spray bottles to enable easy distribution.
CBD Capsules and Edibles
CBD oil pills, or edibles like gummies, and honey sticks, will not bring the immediate relief that sublingual application does, because it takes a different pathway to reach the bloodstream. When you take an oral form of CBD, it needs to pass through the digestive system before reaching the cannabinoid receptors in your body. This leads to a delayed onset; the effects of CBD capsules and edibles are usually felt after 40–90 minutes depending on the user’s weight, metabolism, and whether they take CBD on a full or empty stomach. However, the effects last longer, usually around 10 hours, so they can be useful if the tooth is too sensitive to the touch.
While CBD gum isn’t the most popular form of CBD out there, it provides you with a convenient and effective way to relieve toothache. Of course, it’s not recommended to chew the gum with the achy tooth, but doing so with another side of your jaw, and sucking the gum’s content, will transport the CBD to the bloodstream through the tiny capillaries in your mouth, increasing its bioavailability.
Again, while not a common product, CBD toothpaste combines everything you need to relieve dental pain. On top of the CBD, toothpaste contains a fat base and additional soothing ingredients such as menthol. CBD toothpaste is considered topical because it is applied directly to the problematic area. As mentioned, you make your own CBD-infused toothpaste by simply adding CBD oil to your regular toothpaste, or from scratch, using a combination of coconut oil, CBD oil, baking soda, and peppermint drops.
How Much CBD Should You Take for Dental Pain?
There’s a limited number of clinical trials when it comes to CBD oil, so it’s difficult to gauge the optimal dosage for every person with dental pain. Aside from the fact that everybody is different — and so may be the type and severity of pain — the market lacks regulations when it comes to production and labeling standards.
Most studies have tested around 25 mg of CBD at a time, which is what many products currently on the market suggest. But doctors working in the dental sector have found that this dosage is too low to provide consistent results. According to dr. Mark Burhenne, founder of AsktheDentist.com, patients with a toothache should start between 60–90 mg for the best results. He also favors the sublingual route of administration since the mouth is very permeable.
Even so, the best practice to determine your personal optimal dosage is to try it. First, make sure to consult your doctor to avoid potential CBD-drug interactions. Then, start with a low dose of, say, 5–10 mg CBD daily, and monitor the effects over the course of one week. From there, gradually increase the dose until you find your sweet spot.
CBD for Dentist-Related Anxiety
At least 30% of people have some degree of anxiety about visiting the dentist. If you’ve had a bad dental experience, especially as a child, that may cause a little trauma in you. CBD acts on the regions of the brain that regulates fear, which can help reduce anxiety in patients before an extraction or root canal. Numerous studies have supported the use of CBD for PTSD and anxiety.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine found that a combination of CBD treatment with psychiatric care resulted in 91% of patients reporting a reduction in symptom severity, with an average decrease score of 28% (7). However, it’s important to note that the study had its limitations. Namely, the trial was open-label, meaning it was conducted without a placebo group. Thus, it’s hard to determine the actual efficacy of CBD without a controlled group.
In a 2019 study from the University of Colorado, the authors concluded that 79% of patients (47 with anxiety and 25 with sleep deprivation) who took CBD daily for one month experienced reduced anxiety levels (8). Again, the study didn’t include a control group, so while the results are promising, we need a study with a more meticulous methodology to further confirm the results.
If you’re stressed due to an upcoming dental check, you can apply CBD to relieve anxiety and improve your stress response.
Final Thoughts On CBD, Toothaches, and Other Dental Problems
While CBD won’t fix underlying dental problems, it’s a versatile tool for the management of toothaches and other dental issues. CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects on the body due to its relationship with the endocannabinoid system. It may help reduce inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of your pain. However, if you want to reach the underlying cause — such as a cavity — and deal with your toothache for good, only your dentist can diagnose and cure it.
Do you take CBD for dental pain? Does it help when you’re waiting for the appointment? Let us know in the comments below!
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- Elms, Lucas et al. “Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 25,4 (2019): 392-397. doi:10.1089/acm.2018.0437
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