Berries Slow Gum Infections
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland’s Department of Biosciences have determined that bilberries, blackcurrants, crowberries and lingonberries deter the growth of bacteria that infect the gums and form plaque on the teeth.
The research tested a number of fruits, but these berries were found to have the most inhibitory effect. The bacteria species tested included Streptococcus mutans combined with Fusobacterium nucleatum or Streptococcus mutans combined with Actinomyces naeslundii. Both combinations are found among people with gingivitis and periodontal disease, as well as those with tooth decay and plaque formation.
The researchers found that these berries prevented a process called coaggregation. Coaggregation occurs when multiple species of bacteria cooperate to adhere to a particular surface. When bacteria adhere to teeth or gum tissue, they begin to colonize. Their colonies will grow in number, in other words.
These bacteria produce waste products, including acids that eat away at the dentin of our teeth. They will also eat away at the tissues at our gum line, loosening the gums. As their colonies grow, they produce increasing amounts of waste products.
Gum infections of these bacteria can leak these waste products into the bloodstream, where they can damage the lining of artery walls. For this reason, Streptococcus mutans and other gum infective bacteria have been linked to carotid artery damage.
The researchers determined that those berry solutions containing higher levels of polyphenols, which included proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins inhibited the bacteria the most. The researchers concluded that “the high molecular size fractions of lingonberry, bilberry, blackcurrant and crowberry juices have antiaggregation potential on common oral bacteria, the potential being associated with their polyphenolic content.”
Riihinen K, Ryynänen A, Toivanen M, Könönen E, Törrönen R, Tikkanen-Kaukanen C. Antiaggregation potential of berry fractions against pairs of Streptococcus mutans with Fusobacterium nucleatum or Actinomyces naeslundii. Phytother Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):81-7. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3228.
Adams C. Oral Probiotics: Fighting Tooth Decay, Periodontal Disease and Airway Infections Using Nature’s Friendly Bacteria Logical Books, 2012.