The evolution of oral health as a function of systemic health has bought dentistry into the forefront of integrative medicine. Issues with tooth alignment and oral cavity size/shape and oral inflammation have links to sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and a slew of other health issues.
I’m happy that dentistry has become a huge part of systemic health. I want to believe I’m helping people past the mere counting of teeth and filling cavities.
This being said, many people are afraid to come in for care. Often when a lot of time has gone by, they worry about being judged. Patients also harbor different expectations of pain and discomfort based on their previous experiences.
I recently had lunch with a friend who happens to be a patient of mine. We went for lunch prior to his appointment and he shared with me the slew of anxieties he usually faces prior to his medical and dental appointments. I asked him what he does to overcome them. Interestingly enough, he brought up CBD (cannabidiol) oils and tablets.
This prompted me to start reading a bit more literature on CBD products and how they pertain to dentistry and anxiety. What I found was truly amazing and prompted me to try the tablets for myself.
I make a habit of trying new products, dental or otherwise, before speaking to patients about them.
Finding the right CBD product
First of all, CBD products are not regulated by the FDA and are legal. Still, it was crucial to me to find a brand that had a great reputation for quality. Most CBD products can be purchased in stores or online and come in tablet or oil form in varying concentrations.
My experience with CBD
I decided to try a very small dose prior to going to bed when I was having a hard time falling asleep due to stress.
I felt very relaxed upon waking, but wasn’t convinced if this was a placebo effect or the merits of trying the CBD. I shared my experiences with a few colleagues and friends and found that many other dentists have tried the various products with similar success.
So, what is CBD???
The compound CBD (cannabidiol) is one of 113 identified cannabinoids found in cannabis sativa. It works directly on Serotonin and GABA receptors in the brain.
CBD research has mostly been conducted in animal studies and a few human studies, but is growing in popularity for several key systemic benefits. It has been shown to help with anxiety, sleep issues, seizures, acne-control, and inflammation. There is even some discussion as to whether CBD can cure cavities — although far more research is needed.
Dentistry and CBD
Insofar as dentistry is concerned, the anti-anxiety and inflammatory benefits of CBD are truly remarkable.
Many of my patients suffer from anxiety related to their healthcare appointments and most people suffer from differing levels of periodontal issues caused by inflammation (gingivitis). I can definitely see benefits in further research into those two categories.
A natural pill or oil that eases anxiety, yet leaves a patient fully functional while also lowering systemic inflammation and gingivitis sounds like a dream to me!
I am not yet fully ready to start recommending CBD products to patients as a form of treatment, but am definitely willing to have a conversation urging more research be done in that arena.
I also think it’s important to ask patients if they are using any medications (prescribed and herbal). When patients ask me about my thoughts on CBD, I urge them to make their own decisions and recommend they find a reputable company to purchase the products.
Personally, I like to take them occasionally before bed when I find it hard to fall asleep and would love to see more evidence-based research to support the benefits so I can start recommending them for anxiety and as an anti-inflammatory.
Natural products are a staple of my work and personal philosophy!