New study: Dark-coloured berries may lower the risk of tooth decay

New study: Dark-coloured berries may lower the risk of tooth decay

A new study has found that nutrients in cranberries and blueberries can be highly effective in protecting the teeth against a strand of bacteria responsible for accelerating tooth decay. However, along with other fruit, they may also contain high amounts of natural sugar. One portion of cranberries contains up to four grams of sugar while a serving of blueberries is nearly ten grams.

The natural compounds found in the fruits, known as polyphenols, help fend off harmful bacteria in the mouth. The study supports previous research by suggesting these are good for oral health by preventing ‘bad bacteria’ from sticking to the teeth and gums, which could help reduce tooth decay, plaque and gum disease.

Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Nigel Carter, believes polyphenols could eventually lead to new oral care products. He says: “The nutrients and fibre in fruit are vital for our health and wellbeing.  They help protect us against heart disease and cancer, as well as a range of other diseases. Cranberries seem especially good for our oral health, as their polyphenols stick around in our saliva and will continue to help our mouth, even after we’ve swallowed them. What is especially exciting is that these natural extracts are completely sugar-free. This means they can be added to oral care products in several ways.

“They can dissolve in water so can be used to create healthy drinks, as well as to reformulate unhealthy drinks packed full of sugar. They also have wider applications for tooth decay prevention and control.  Mouthwash could benefit from this ingredient, as could toothpastes. More testing must be done but it will be extremely interesting to see whether manufactures make more use of polyphenols in the future.”

Study reference: Philip, N., Bandara, H., Leishman, S. and Walsh, L. (2018). Inhibitory effects of fruit berry extracts on Streptococcus mutans biofilms. European Journal of Oral Sciences.

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