Cranberries Enlisted in Fight Against Tooth Decay

Dentistry Today
Photo by Seth Crawford, Wichita State Strategic Communications.


Photo by Seth Crawford, Wichita State Strategic Communications.

Wichita State professor of biological sciences J. David McDonald, PhD, and graduate assistant Alisha Prince are teaming up with Ocean Spray to research synergistic properties in cranberries and other natural extracts that will, in theory, stop tooth decay and provide an alternative to traditional oral health care. They hope their work will provide reliable, cheap, and tasty options to typical teeth cleaning and unlock the secrets to stopping oral diseases. 

“We knew these substances would help aid in the fight against oral diseases, but the synergy of them working together had never really been observed before,” said Prince. 

After a summer’s worth of research, McDonald reached out to Ocean Spray for support that would continue the team’s inquiries. The company has provided extracts as well as other vital materials for their research and has been a significantly helpful part of their work. 

Once these extracts are received, Prince measures and observes the different ways bacteria respond to the mixtures of cranberry and other natural extracts. Each individual combination has its own effects on the bacterial growth. 

“There is a real disconnect from the dental industry with biological sciences,” said Prince. “Finding the link between these two areas of healthcare will be essential to stopping bacteria and viruses of the future.”

McDonald said the trial and error of finding the perfect combination is tedious, but knowing that people’s livelihood will benefit from this work is the driving force behind it all.

“So, until then, we will continue to work through each combination, one at a time, until we find the results we’re looking for,” said McDonald.

Prince has been able to combine not only her experience from dental school in India, but also her passion for helping people who have never had an opportunity for reliable oral healthcare. She knew that she wanted to continue her work as a dental professional, but also realized that combining her area of expertise with the microbiological aspect of the work would help find unique solutions to such a complex problem.

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