During November, many families gather to enjoy one another’s company, express gratitude for the good things in life, and enjoy delicious food. Often, traditional meals include cranberry sauce, which is a tasty complement for turkey meat. But have you ever wondered how cranberries can affect oral health? Read on below to learn how this fruit can impact your smile’s well-being.
Cranberries and Oral Health
A biofilm is a somewhat slimy substance that is filled with bacteria. There are several biofilms in the human body. For example, helpful biofilms cover human skin and line the digestive tract. Not all biofilms are so beneficial, however.
When bacteria accumulate in the mouth, they form a sticky biofilm, most commonly known as plaque, on tooth enamel. If that plaque remains on teeth long enough, it can harden into a substance known as tartar, which is impossible to remove with at-home oral hygiene tools. Plaque is also a major contributor to cavities.
The good news is that cranberries have a special ability to inhibit biofilm formation. That is to say, they can prevent bacteria from clinging to your teeth and thereby play a role in cavity prevention. In fact, they have been shown to reduce plaque by up to 95%. They can also keep harmful bacteria away from the gums, thereby reducing your risk of gum disease.
Cranberries and Overall Health
In addition to benefiting your teeth and gums, cranberries can also support your overall wellness. For example, they are often used to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. They also have powerful antioxidant effects, can help to manage cholesterol, support a healthy immune system, and more. They can even play a role in promoting insulin sensitivity, which is important for individuals looking to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
Oral health and overall health are intimately linked. A healthy immune system and well-managed blood sugar can support a problem-free smile.
Benefiting from Cranberries
As beneficial as cranberries are, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Cranberries are acidic. Cranberry juice is more acidic than most fruit juices, which means it may erode tooth enamel. If you choose to drink it, do not sip on it slowly. Instead, drink it fairly quickly. Also, choose a 100% cranberry juice, rather than one with added sugar or extra flavors.
- Be wary of cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce, especially canned varieties, tend to have lots of extra sugar, which is inherently bad for teeth. Try to choose a sugar-free product. You can also use fresh cranberries to make your own sauce at home; you will be able to control how much sugar you add to the recipe.
Cranberries are a wonderful fruit! If you eat them without a lot of added sugar, you can enjoy them this November without worrying that they might harm your smile.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. James Kalina is an experienced general dentist in Mankato. Whether you are looking to maintain your oral health or improve it, he and our team are ready to serve you. To learn more about how we can support the well-being of your teeth and gums, contact us at 507-625-2021.