Forget peppermint and spearmint—the best toothpaste flavor might one day be wild blueberry. Extract from the berries might fight gum disease, according to research.
Nearly half of all American adults have periodontal disease, according to the CDC. And that doesn't just mean achy gums and the potential of losing your teeth. Research has linked periodontal disease to other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Daniel Grenier, a researcher at the Faculty of Dentistry and Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods at the Universite Laval in Quebec, knew that some blueberry polyphenols fight foodborne pathogens. He was curious to determine if they could also fight Fusobacterium nucleatum, one of the main species of bacteria associated with periodontitis.
With a team of researchers, Grenier tested extracts from the wild lowbush blueberry against F. nucleatum. They found that the extract did in fact inhibit the growth of the bacteria. It also blocked a molecular pathway involved in inflammation, a key part of gum disease, according to a release about the research from the American Chemical Society. The researchers say they’re developing an oral device that could slowly release the extract after deep cleaning at the dentist’s to help treat periodontitis, an option that would be far more pleasant than having a hygienist scrape your tooth with sharp metal tools.
The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and noted on sciencedaily.com. Other recent research found that people who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids have less gum disease than people who don’t.