The use of CBD clinically has become increasingly popular, and while it has been proven successful for the management of chronic pain, its effectiveness for the management of tooth pain is not commonly known.
It can be difficult to understand the effects of CBD on tooth pain. Read on to find out more about how CBD interacts with tooth pain and its effectiveness.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural essential oil found in cannabis and is one of the most prevalent active ingredients within it. There are over 120 identified cannabinoids, with CBD making up 40 percent of the extract. Unlike its counterpart THC, CBD lacks the psychoactive components, which is thought to be responsible for its protective effect against some of the negative psychological effects seen in regular cannabis users.
CBD interacts primarily with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a complex framework of neurotransmitters that modulate our reactions to pain, stress and inflammation in our bodies. The ECS is made up of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and some enzymes to regulate endocannabinoids. Cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors located in various regions of the body are responsible for a lot of the anti-inflammatory and subsequently pain-relieving effects of CBD we will be looking at here.
Causes of Toothaches
The pulp inside the tooth is often the culprit for much tooth-related pain, as it is populated with many sensitive nerve endings and blood vessels. Causes of tooth pain may include:
Cavities are areas of the tooth that are damaged, often caused by poor oral hygiene, sugary beverages or plaque buildup. Despite its protective effect, in excess, plaque can cause parts of the enamel to break or wear thin. When the pulp (in the center of the tooth) is exposed, this often leads to sharp pains.
A buildup of bacteria can cause pus to form in pockets around the tooth. Abscesses are caused by three types of infection:
- Gingival: Develops in the gums, usually doesn’t affect the tooth or other important structures.
- Periapical: This type develops at the tip of the root. This usually occurs when bacteria spread into the pulp through a fracture or cavity. Once in the pulp, bacteria can spread to the tooth’s root, eventually leading to an abscess.
- Periodontal: This type of infection begins at the base of the tooth, where the bone and supporting tissues reside. A periodontal abscess can result in gum disease and is more common in adulthood.
Cracking in the tooth can be a result of injury or wear and tear. These can often be identified with the pain while chewing or sensitivity to extreme temperature exposure.
Also known as gum disease, it is caused by an infection that damages the soft tissue of the gums. Without treatment, this eventually spreads to the bone supporting the teeth which can lead to tooth loss and other serious complications.
Toothaches can also be a result of tooth sensitivity following common dental treatments such as a dental crown or a cleaning. It is normal to experience pain and happens as a result of some agitation of the sensitive tissues of the teeth and gums. These can last for weeks and be particularly uncomfortable.
It is important that as soon as you begin to feel pain in your teeth to consult a dentist. This is because sharp pains can also be indicative of sinusitis or wisdom teeth growing, which require further treatment to resolve.
Types of Tooth Pain
Toothaches can range significantly in location and severity of pain. While it may seem like they are the same, different pain may indicate an abscess, cavity or dental fracture.
Sensitive tooth pain
This is characterized by sensitivity or sharp, shooting pain following exposure to hot or cold stimuli. This can indicate an inflamed pulp, which is usually caused by a bacterial infection from a cavity. The sharp pains may last seconds, or minutes and inflammation usually resolve on its own. Other possible causes may be rough brushing or cavities.
If the pain is severe and lasts for longer than thirty seconds, it may be wise to book an appointment with your dentist as it may be indicative of something more serious. Possible problems may include tooth decay, worn fillings, gum disease, or exposed roots.
Dull, persistent ache
This is one of the most common and can often be as simple as food being stuck between the teeth. If there is continuously pulsating along the gumline it may be as a result of tooth decay or nerve damage.
Pain in more than one tooth may be indicative of bruxism (teeth grinding) which can be a side effect of many common medications.
Sharp pain when biting food
This type of pain usually occurs when a tooth has decayed, cracked, or if a filling has come loose. This can cause damage to the pulp, the sensitive oral tissue in the center of the tooth.
Severe, throbbing pain
Pain that is felt more intensely in one area may be a sign of infection or an abscess. Anytime a toothache is unbearable or distracting, it is best to contact an emergency dentist as soon as possible.
Why CBD oil?
CBD has gained a lot of popularity for its anti-inflammatory properties which can help with the management of tooth pain. By acting on the CB2 and CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CBD reduces the activity of cells that cause the swelling and pain associated with inflammation.
There are many methods of use, but the topical application of CBD oil seems to be the most effective for pain relief. CBD works by acting on the cannabinoid receptors to help moderate and reduce inflammation. By applying CBD oil directly to the mouth, the anti-inflammatory properties can be targeted by focusing application on painful areas.
CBD is a natural oil extract, which means when applied orally it is much less disruptive to the oral microbiome. While it may seem like the elimination of all bacteria in the mouth is beneficial, our bodies rely on a healthy balance of bacteria, and do so naturally.
How CBD is used for dental pain
Here we focus on different methods of topical application as it is localized and fast-acting. Capsules and vapes can also be used.
In this form, CBD is dissolved in alcohol. These often come in a spray bottle which helps with application. Tinctures are often taken sublingually, which is proven to be the fastest, most efficient method of absorption.
CBD often comes in dropper form or with a spray nozzle. A drop of CBD is added to a toothbrush and brushed around areas of pain, allowing the oil to get closer to the site of inflammation. The same technique can be done by soaking a cotton bud and rubbing the painful area.
Infused Baking Soda
Baking soda is a versatile household item that is also useful in dental practice for its bactericidal properties. Add a small amount to a damp toothbrush with a drop of CBD oil. Brush the affected / painful areas.
Capsule or edibles
Swallowing CBD capsules may not be as effective for localized pain but can help alleviate sensitive pain and usually have a longer-lasting effect. Edibles may not be appropriate depending on the severity of tooth pain but act in a very similar way.
CBD for dental anxiety
Up to a third of people experience anxiety to some degree about visiting their dentist. Along with its interactions with our bodies’ anti-inflammatory response, CBD acts on regions of the brain that regulate fear. Studies show that CBD is an effective way to reduce anxiety. In such cases, CBD can be beneficial for individuals who may feel uneasy going to the dentist.
While THC may have some calming effects, studies show that CBD works more effectively for many people. It is thought that CBD when compared to THC, has more of a protective effect against the psychoactive risks often associated with marijuana use.
CBD may actually be helpful before a dental appointment to calm the nerves when taken at the appropriate dosage.
The bottom line
Tooth pain is one of the most common, yet frustrating problems you can have. While it may not fix underlying dental problems, CBD can be a resourceful tool for the management of toothaches and other dental issues. While more research is needed, current literature demonstrates a positive effect for both the management of pain and anxiety.
Overall, CBD products are a natural and effective method of tooth pain relief but always consult a dentist first to prevent any further complications.
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