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There’s a good reason why health news these days can seem like all coronavirus all the time: We need to know how to stay safe during this pandemic and want to know what progress is being made to flatten the curve and develop effective treatments.

Yet in the background, other dental and medical research continues to be done and published, and some of it brings some good and fascinating developments.

cannabis sativa plantCase in point? A new study in Cureus Journal of Medical Science, which found that certain compounds in cannabis – a/k/a marijuana – may be more effective than the stuff in your standard toothpaste when it comes to keeping decay-causing bacteria in check.

The compounds are cannabinoids – not the THC that gets you high but non-psychoactive compounds like CBD, which has a wide range of medicinal uses.

For the current study, samples of oral biofilm – a/k/a dental plaque – were taken from 60 individuals and spread onto two petri dishes. Each dish was divided into four parts. One had four different cannabinoids – CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC – while the other had CBGA and three toothpaste samples: Oral B, Colgate, and a plant-based paste. The research team then evaluated the resulting microbial communities in each quadrant.

Overall, the cannabinoids were found to be more effective than the standard toothpastes in reducing harmful bacteria. Most effective were CBC and CBN.

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.

This is just a preliminary study, of course, and a small one. Far more research needs to be done. But the results are promising toward another natural alternative to synthetic oral hygiene products and ingredients.

toothbrushThat said, though, it’s also important to know that toothpaste isn’t exactly the most essential component in your oral hygiene. In fact, most of the plaque control happens simply from the physical act of your brushing with the proper technique. (Yes, there’s a reason your hygienist constantly stresses technique!)

Also more important than toothpaste is eating right, a diet based on whole foods and low in sugars, starches, and hyper-processed carbs – those foods that are known to stick to the teeth and be the favored food of harmful oral bacteria. By starving them, you help keep them in check – and help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

What toothpaste can do quite well, though, is deliver compounds that can help protect your teeth and gums, such as essential oils that can help control bacteria, probiotics that can help you maintain a good balance of bacteria in your mouth, or compounds like theobromine, which can help remineralize your teeth.

Just be sure you use the right technique. Your hygienist and dentist will be impressed.

Cannabis image by James St. John

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