Dental researchers in the US have discovered that cranberries hold important clues for preventing cavities. A team led by oral biologist Hyun Koo, at the University of Rochester Medical Center has discovered that the same traits that make cranberry juice a powerful weapon against bladder infections also hold promise for protecting teeth against cavities. Koo found that cranberry juice makes it difficult for the bacteria Streptococcus mutans to cling to tooth surfaces. 'Scientists believe that one of the main ways that cranberries prevent urinary tract infections is by inhibiting the adherence of pathogens on the surface of the bladder. Perhaps the same is true in the mouth, where bacteria use adhesion molecules to hold onto teeth,' Koo said. Koo's team also found evidence that cranberry juice disrupts the formation of glucan, the building block of plaque. Streptococcus mutans uses enzymes known as glucosyltransferases to build dental plaque piece by piece. Koo's team found that cranberry juice prevents bacteria from forming plaque by inhibiting the enzyme. In spite of these promising results, Koo does not advocate mass consumption of cranberry juice, which is loaded with sugar and high in acidity, instead, he hopes to isolate the anti-cavity compounds within the juice. The substances could then be added to toothpaste or mouth rinse directly. He is working closely with Nicholi Vorsa, PhD, a plant pathologist and director of the Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center at Rutgers, to isolate the compounds in juice that are most protective. The cranberry research will be published in the January 2006 issue of Caries Research.