Here’s a surprising way cannabis may improve your smile

cannabis and oral health

When the Farm Bill opened up America to CBD there was an onslaught of new products. Everything from pillows to toothpaste was soon made available with cannabinoids included.

This led many to wonder what CBD and cannabis could really do for people. For example, is there any need to brush teeth with it? Here are the basics on cannabis and oral health, from peer-reviewed studies to how dentists feel about the plant.

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Cannabinoid receptors in the mouth

Tongues, gums, and the inside of the cheek all have cannabinoid receptors according to research, but an inquiry into how this impacts how people function is still underway. Here’s what we know.

Cannabinoid receptors are found all over the body, like in the mucosal tissue. This is the soft tissue lining the organs and pathways in the body. It is made of three layers: epithelium, lamina propria, and muscularis mucosae. Researchers have discovered cannabinoid receptors in the top two layers. Studies also the receptors working in the tongue epithelial cells and salivary glands.

These cannabinoid receptors throughout the mouth led some to believe that cannabis may have potential in future treatment for oral cancers and tissue diseases.

Cannabis and oral health studies

Researching the connection between cannabis and oral health may lead to breakthroughs in dentistry, and some studies have already laid the groundwork.

Salivary glands have CB1 receptors in the location responsible for reabsorbing electrolytes, and CB2 in the ducts that secrete saliva. Not only does this explain the mechanisms behind dry mouth, but it also led to a study that identified CBD as a tool for modulating salivary function.

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The distribution of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the gums depends on their health. More bacteria lead to more CB2 receptors, indicating that they may play a role in tissue healing. CB1s are expressed prominently in healthy gums.

Literature on oral health and cannabis continues hitting the wire, but there is still not enough data to apply weed treatment to a specific job.

What dentists know about weed

Cannabis has not become a common or even experimental treatment at dental practices. Most dentists caution against consuming due to the role chronic smoking can play in gum health. However, as cannabis legalization sweeps the nation, weed is becoming a more common topic of conversation.

Most dentists are concerned with the fact that about half of their patients are showing up stoned to appointments, leading them to wonder how compounds like epinephrine might interact with their systems. While some may consume hoping to reduce anxiety, their raised heart rate could have a negative interaction with the drug Because of this, it’s important to disclose consumption if a dentist asks, and more might as the industry adjusts.

There are definitely cannabinoids all up in the mouth, and it’s possible they may be useful to dentists, periodontists, and oral surgeons one day. For now, the dental community is in the learning phase, figuring out if and where the plant fits into their patient’s lives. Until then, remember that chronic weed smoke can lead to periodontitis, so maybe reach for the edibles sparingly.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.