Are Blueberries the Key to Fighting Gum Disease

A common condition among many of Oregon City dentist Dr. Brett Johnson’s adult patients at Oregon City Dentistry, gum disease occurs when oral bacteria form biofilms – more commonly referred to a plaque – on the surface of teeth. More severe cases of gum disease – a condition known as periodontitis – can even require antibiotics to treat.

But now researchers have discovered that wild blueberry extract could potential reduce the amount plaque that builds up in the mouth, thereby lowering an individual’s risk of gum disease. This breakthrough could lead to the development of new therapy designed to treat periodontitis without the use of antibiotics.

The findings of this latest study were published the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

A Refreshing Discovery

Over half of American adults over the age of 30 suffer from some degree of gum disease, according studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Oral plaque causes the gums to become red and swollen, and make them bleed more easily than before. When left untreated, oral plaque can cause the development of gingivitis – an early form of gum disease – before progressing into periodontitis.

As the plaque hardens into tartar, the infection begins to spread below the gum line where it destroys tissue that supports your teeth. To treat this condition, Dr. Johnson and his staff of dental hygienists must scrape off the tartar and occasionally need to use conventional antibiotics to treat the disease.

Recently, however, researchers have begun to look at natural antibacterial fighting compounds as an alternative to treating gum disease. Researchers wanted to determine if blueberry polyphenols, which work against foodborne pathogens, could also help fight Fusobacterium nucleatum, one of the primary strands of bacteria linked to the development of gum disease.

In a lab, researchers tested extracts from blueberries. The polyphenol-rich extracts researchers were able to harvest from the fruit were successfully able to slow the growth of F. nucleatum, and the bacteria’s ability to create biofilms. Blueberries were also able to block a molecular pathway involved in inflammation, a key part of the prevention of gum disease. Researchers hope to develop an oral device that could slowly release blueberry extract after patients undergo a deep cleaning as part of periodontal disease treatments.

Preventing Gum Disease

While this exciting breakthrough promises to improve the way Oregon City dentist Dr. Brett Johnson can treat gum disease in the future, patients of Oregon City Dentistry should still work to prevent the development of the gingivitis and periodontitis.

The best way to lower your risk of gum disease is by practicing quality oral hygiene at home. The American Dental Association considers good oral hygiene as brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Patients also need to schedule regular checkups and cleanings with Dr. Johnson, your dentist in Oregon City, to enjoy the best oral health possible now and in the future.