A handful of dark-coloured berries may lower the risk of tooth decay, new research shows.
Scientists have 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.
The study supports previous research by suggesting these natural compounds, known as polyphenols, are good for oral health by preventing ‘bad bacteria’ from sticking to teeth and gums. This could help reduce tooth decay, plaque and gum disease.
Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes polyphenols could eventually lead to new oral care products. Dr Carter 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.”
Dark-coloured berries are among the best dietary source of antioxidants. However, they often also contain high amounts of natural sugar.