Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
September 6, 2016
I’m a periodontist; I treat gum disease; and I have been doing this for 42 years. I have written about how I treat gum disease and how our diet and lifestyle are huge factors in the development and progression of gum disease. HERE. HERE. HERE.
Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. It is a destructive, chronic inflammatory infection that breaks down the jawbone surrounding the roots of teeth. It affects 47% of the adult population in the US and is a factor in other diseases throughout the body.
Research is just research. It is information that may make a difference in humans once it has been tried and tested in humans.
I have found interesting research that could enhance the treatment of periodontitis. The dental profession has not adopted this new research yet. But, I see the potential.
The new research revolves around biochemicals that are manufactured by various cells in the body naturally. The specific biochemicals described in the research are called cannabinoids. They affect numerous functions in the body. When cannabinoids are damaged or prevented from doing their work in the body, the body suffers. These biochemicals are also available from external sources and could support those made by the body.
Specifically, cannabidiol (CBD), one of the cannabinoids, is available from the hemp plant. It is not THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is another cannabinoid compound that is the active ingredient in marijuana creating psychoactive “highs”. CBD has no or minimal psychoactive effects or toxic affects, and is available as an over-the-counter supplement.
Science & Periodontitis
Destruction of the jawbone in periodontitis is related to specific mediators causing inflammation and resorption of bone. New research in animal studies has shown that CBD will decrease this inflammation and prevent destruction of the jawbone that is part of the progression of periodontitis. It is possible that supplemental CBD could improve healing following periodontal treatment by reducing these damaging affects caused by advanced gum disease.
In contrast, another published paper suggested that using CBD as a supplement could possibly cause an overgrowth of gum tissue, especially if there was existing gum infection.
In the future, clinical trials need to be performed to demonstrate that CBD would be beneficial in the treatment of periodontal disease. Only then could my profession consider embracing its potential. Other questions that need to be answered include:
- How much CBD would a patient need to consume to improve healing?
- Since many structural forms of CBD are available, which one would be most biologically available to the body?
- Are there any side effects from supplemental CBD on the rest of the body?
These questions must be answered before I could recommend CBD as a supplement in periodontal treatment. However, I must emphasize the best prevention for gum disease is a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet as well as proper oral hygiene as I described in this series of blogs. HERE. HERE. HERE.
Unfortunately, science at times has created medicines or supplements processed from natural sources only to learn the intended benefits are not what they should be or the side effects prove to be harmful. That said, I am eager to learn what CBD might be able to do for my periodontal patients.