Cranberries get thumbs-up from UK dentists
leading dental charity advises they could help prevent a host of
oral health problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
The British Dental Health Foundation, which offers impartial dental advice to the public, is basing the advice on findings from the University of Rochester that showed cranberry juice stops harmful bacteria from sticking to the teeth.
This prevents the formation of plaque responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.
The fruits are already consumed for their benefits on heart health and for urinary tract health. France has recently approved the health claim that cranberries can 'help reduce the adhesion of certain E.coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls'.
But oral health is a newer application area for marketers of the fruit. Other research from the University of Illinois at Chicago has suggested that cranberry juice may benefit oral health by interfering with viability, growth, and biofilm formation of oral pathogens.
However, the Foundation warned that the findings, presented at the Cranberry Institute's Cranberry Health Research Symposium in late October, should be treated with a degree of caution and that due to its acidity, cranberry juice should be limited to mealtimes.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, commented: "With the number of cranberry containing toothpastes and flosses on the market increasing, it seems that oral health companies are taking advantage of the benefits of cranberries."
"However, it is important to also be aware of the negatives. Cranberry juice is naturally very acidic. Every time you drink something acidic the enamel on your teeth is softened temporarily."
It is estimated that more than 5 million people visit the dentist with toothache every year in the UK, and the vast majority of these are the result of tooth decay.
Gum disease causes bleeding gums and bad breath and is the number one cause of tooth loss in the UK. It has also been linked to conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and heart attacks.