This Thanksgiving you may have another reason besides the season to be reaching for a second helping of those cranberries. It seems researchers from the University of Rochester’s Medical Center may have fallen upon a cranberry compound that protects teeth by preventing plaque from forming on tooth enamel. A lot has been written about certain foods preventing tooth decay. Let’s consider what we know so far: cheese has the ability to neutralize the acid levels in our mouths, celery helps clean our teeth as we chew, and best of all, it’s good for your overall health. But now research reveals that cranberries, specifically cranberry juice, makes it difficult for oral bacteria responsible for decay to cling to the surface of the teeth.
Dr. Hyun (Michel) Koo, D.D.S., Ph.D., lead team researcher and oral biologist, believes that the same component in cranberries that is a powerhouse against bladder infections may also keep oral bacteria from using adhesive molecules to cling to teeth. For instance, dextrans is a gluey adhesive produced by bacteria like Streptococcus mutans when it feasts on sugar and converts it into acids that cause dental decay.
Cranberry Juice Disrupts Plaque Formation
Another clue into this plaque pillaging component is that it interrupts the building of the primary form of plaque known as glucans. Oral bacteria use enzymes called glucosyltransferases to create this wall of sticky plaque on our teeth that allows bacteria to thrive and grow by converting sugar into decay-eating acid. Koo’s research team found that cranberry juice stopped the bacteria from forming these enzymes. Exactly what compound within the cranberry juice disables these pathogens is still an unknown. But once Koo’s team isolates and then identifies this element, there is hope that it will eventually make its way into toothpastes and mouthwashes as a potential cavity crusher.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Koo is a food scientist turned dentist, and has made it his focus to study the inner workings of oral bacteria that causes tooth decay. With continued success, he may just improve the oral health of millions around the world. In the meantime, we’ll still have to stick to more traditional methods of keeping tooth decay at bay.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, we need to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for like our homes, food, loved ones, our health, and simply just being alive. If you need assistance or have questions, remember that we’re always available to help. Our team at Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD is dedicated to keeping your oral health at its best. Whether you need a routine check-up, considering an implant or just wish to improve the brightness of your smile, we will provide a comfortable, safe environment with a caring and committed staff for all your dental needs.
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfiled Dentiust