Instead of advocating mass consumption of cranberry juice, Koo hopes to isolate the compounds within the juice that pack an anti-cavity punch. The substances could then be added to toothpaste or mouth rinse directly. He is working closely with Nicholi Vorsa, Ph.D., 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.
A food scientist turned dentist, Koo became fascinated with research and is an expert on natural substances that can improve oral health. Currently, as an assistant professor in the Eastman Department of Dentistry and a researcher in the Center for Oral Biology, he is focusing on ways to stop the bacteria that ultimately causes cavities. Such research, if successful, would improve the oral health of millions of people worldwide.
Koo's work with cranberry juice is one of nine projects funded through a special program by the National Institutes of Health to test the berry's reputed health-enhancing effects. The other projects focus on topics such as urinary tract infections and how the body processes cranberry juice.
"There is a massive number of publications about the effect of cranberries on urinary tract infections," said Koo, "but there are only few studies on the dental side."
The cranberry research will be published in the January 2006 issue of Caries Research. Other authors include dentist Patricia Nino de Guzman, dental student Brian Schobel, and microbiologist Anne Vacca Smith, Ph.D., and dental researcher William Bowen, D.D.S., Ph.D.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Koo said that only cranberry juice is under study, so diners shouldn't reach for the cranberry sauce just to stop the tooth decay brought on by carbohydrate-laden foods like mashed potatoes, rolls, and pumpkin pie. He recommends traditional measur
Source:University of Rochester Medical Center