What we eat has a major impact on our dental health for better or worse. We have previously mentioned that cranberries can be a good way to fight plaque, and coffee has been shown to help protect your gums. Well it seems that blueberries can be added to that list as well. A specific extract from the lowbush blueberry has been used in the past to fight foodborne pathogens, and has also proven effective against F. nucleatum which is the main species of bacteria that causes an extreme form of gum disease, periodontitis.
Why You Should Fear Gum Disease
It should go without saying that you do not want anything with the word “disease” in it, but gum disease is an especially bad one. Gum disease is started by hardened plaque that builds up under the gums. Gingivitis, the first stage of the disease, is where the plaque builds up enough that the gums become swollen and irritated and begin to bleed. If the plaque is not removed then the disease worsens and leads to periodontal disease which is marked by a receding gum line and eventual damage to the jaw bone. Gum disease is usually easily avoidable by regularly brushing and flossing and visiting your dentist. How exactly can a blueberry do a job that is normally done by dentists?
As we mentioned earlier, a certain extract from a blueberry is known to be effective in fighting foodborne illnesses. Scientists who were seeing all-natural treatments for gum disease noted this extract’s anti-bacterial properties and decided to test it against F. nucleatum. They were surprised to find that it fought the bacteria in a couple different ways. First it stopped the bacteria from growing, secondly it stopped the bacteria from producing biofilms (in this instance, plaque), and lastly it blocked a molecular pathway that is involved in inflammation. It seems like this extract is ideal in fighting gum disease! The researchers are currently working on a device that could release the extract after deep cleaning as a treatment for periodontitis.
Still in Development
Unfortunately their oral device is still in development, but this is not the only way to fight gum disease. As previously mentioned, good oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, mouthwash) and visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleanings are great ways to keep your gums and teeth healthy.