Gum disease is a common condition that, in severe cases, calls for antibiotics. Now, researchers are developing a treatment based on wild blueberry extract that could prevent the formation of dental plaque that leads to gum disease.
A report on the work, by a team from Université Laval in Canada, can be found in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Many people have some degree of gum inflammation, or gingivitis, that results from the build-up of dental plaque containing bacteria. However, if the inflammation persists, it eventually leads to gum or periodontal disease.
If the bacterial plaque is not removed – for example, by regular brushing and gum care – it leads to a much harder deposit called tartar that only a dental health professional can remove to stop the periodontal disease process.
In severe cases of periodontal disease, the dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.
Lab tests showed the compounds successfully stopped the bacterium growing and forming biofilms. Tests on macrophages – immune system cells that play a key role in inflammation – also showed that the polyphenol-rich extract blocked a molecular pathway that is involved in inflammation.
Biofilms are precursors to plaques. They consist of a matrix of substances the bacteria cells produce and in which they embed themselves.