Blueberries Help Fight Gum Disease

Written by Stephanie Orozco, Staff Writer

A team of scientists from the University of Laval in Canada have discovered that wild blueberry extract could help prevent dental plaque formation, which can, in turn, help fight gum disease.

Gum disease, known as periodontitis, is a common but dangerous condition that occurs when bacteria forms plague, a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. If not properly treated, gum disease can end in tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds the teeth and in very serious cases, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

The team of scientists wanted to see if blueberry polyphenols, which work against foodborne pathogens, could also help fight against Fusobacterium nucleatum, one of the main bacterial species associated with gum disease. Not only did the blueberry extract prevent the growth of the germ, but it also blocked a molecular pathway involved in inflammation, a key part of gum disease.

Unfortunately, just eating blueberries won’t really do any good but scientists are developing an oral device that slowly releases the extract after deep teeth cleaning in hopes that it will reduce the need for antibiotics to help treat gum disease.

However, gum disease can be reversed in nearly all cases when proper plaque control is practiced. Proper plaque control consists of brushing and flossing at least twice daily, using mouth-rinses and getting professional cleanings at least twice a year. Brushing helps eliminate plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached and flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line. According to the American Dental Association, antibacterial mouth-rinses can reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease. Dental hygiene can easily be ignored but it is very important to one’s overall health.