The Oral Health Benefits Of Pomegranates

Combat tooth decay and gum disease

Introduction

As many seek to promote good health and boost their immune systems, the pomegranate fruit has risen in popularity as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory alternative to pharmaceutical products. This is nothing new as the pomegranate has symbolized health, fertility, and prosperity since ancient times. What is new is our understanding of its potential effects on oral health as well. 

It is safe to say that pomegranates can have a beneficial effect on oral health by fighting the most common dental diseases of tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease (periodontitis)

Dr. Lara T. Coseo

Author

Dr. Lara Coseo is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas.

Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.

What You Need To Know

  •  The pomegranate is scientifically categorized as a berry and is commonly cultivated in Middle Eastern, Asian and Medetarianian countries.
  • The edible parts of a pomegranate are the arils and seeds. Although the peel has exceptional nutritional value it is unpalatable and usually discarded. However it can be processed and used as pomegranate extract.
  • The pomegranate plant has tremendous nutritional and therapeutic value. The peel, fruit, and seeds all contain a wide range of substances that can protect human body cells from damage.
  • Pomegranates provide a dense source of beneficial phytochemicals, these are primarily a collection of polyphenols that include tannins and flavonoids.
  • Studies have shown pomegranates and pomegranate extracts have antioxidant, anti-diabetic, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Compounds contained in pomegranates have proven to be effective at controlling the harmful bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.
  • The anti-inflammatory effects of pomegranate extracts have proved to be beneficial at reducing the chronic inflammation associated with gum disease.

Preventing Tooth Decay And Gum Disease

Scientific research shows that tannins and polyphenols in pomegranate have antibacterial effects on specific strains of oral bacteria including Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis which are directly related to tooth decay and gum disease respectively.

In one study, researchers gathered fresh Pomegranate fruit from a local market in João Pessoa Brazil to conduct experiments at the University of Pernambuco. The Pomegranate peel was removed, dried and ground into a gel preparation for the study. Results showed that the pomegranate gel successfully inhibited the harmful bacteria and fungus responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.

The studies intended to get as close to simply eating a pomegranate as possible while being able to isolate which part of the pomegranate was the effective substance.

Obviously, if you kill the bacteria that cause cavities, you lower your risk for cavities!

Pomegranates have been proven to reduce the bacterial biofilm (dental plaque) that causes gum inflammation and disease.

Combating gum Inflammation

It is of the utmost importance to understand that periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the entire body! Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s due to its involvement with chronic inflammation. 

Gum disease begins with the production of toxins by bacteria lurking beneath the gums. If you do not remove these bacterial buildups through great oral hygiene and consistent dental care, the body responds to these toxins with inflammation. The body’s inflammatory response is good at first, but once it transitions from acute to chronic (which happens when you delay treatment), the inflammation itself becomes part of the disease process. 

Treating periodontal disease involves removing the bacteria so that you stop the buildup of those toxins in the gum tissues. 

Adding foods with anti-inflammatory properties helps your body fight chronic inflammation naturally. 

Dietary polyphenols derived from pomegranates have been proven to reduce the bacterial biofilm (dental plaque) that causes gum inflammation and disease.

Pomegranate Health Benefits

Antioxidant

Pomegranates have potent antioxidant properties capable of protecting the body from free radical damage.

Anti-inflammatory

Phytonutrients in pomegranates have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Hypolipidemic

Pomegranate extract has shown promise as a natural option for controlling cholesterol.

Anti-diabetic

Recent studies support the use of pomegranate peel extract in diabetics.

anticarcinogenic

Early studies suggest that Pomegrates may be useful in the treatment of a number of different cancers.

antibacterial

Compounds contained in pomegranates have been proven to inhibit certain strains of bacteria.

Summary and Actions

While the health benefits of pomegranates are irrefutable, it is important to understand the risks associated with pomegranate consumption. Acidic foods and  beverages soften and weaken tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to cavity-causing bacteria.  The pulp of the fruit and the juice are acidic in pH (2.9 – 3.2) , which carries the potential for enamel damage. While the peel contains the highest amount of polyphenols, it is also bitter, so many people avoid it completely. 

If you want the benefits of the pomegranate peel without the unpleasant taste, you can seek out pomegranate extract capsules, which may contain a higher level of polyphenols by incorporating powdered pomegranate peel.

Eating the arils (fruit covered seeds) or drinking pomegranate juice poses the risk of acidic damage to enamel, so you should take a few precautions.  These precautions apply to the ingestion of all acidic foods and drinks.

  • Eat or drink acidic items as part of a meal.  The stimulation of salivary flow will help counteract the acid and protect the teeth.
  • Follow your acidic food or beverage with plain tap water to swish and swallow.  This flushes away residual acid and rapidly brings the pH in your mouth back to neutral.
  • Do not immediately brush your teeth, as the bacteria in plaque produce acids in response to their “meal” of carbohydrates, and it takes about 30 minutes for this acid to neutralize.  Brushing immediately potentially rubs acidic food debris and dental plaque into the enamel.
  • After enjoying an acidic food or beverage and rinsing your mouth with water, chew a piece of sugar-free gum.  This stimulates even more salivary flow, continuing to fight the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth.

Dr. Lara T. Coseo

Dr. Lara Coseo is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas. 

Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.

Summary
Oral health benefits of pomegranates
Article Name
Oral health benefits of pomegranates
Description
The health benefits of pomegranates are already well documented, however, it is less widely known that pomegranates can have a positive effect on oral health. In this article, Dr. Lara tells how pomegranates can help us prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
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Mouthpower.org
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2 thoughts on “Oral Health Benefits Of Pomegranates”

  1. Although it is undeniable and fabulous, what range of positive health effects pomegranted has, I believe it is important to check whether the antibacterial activity in the mouth is happening because of acidity of the juice, not because the actual juice has a particular antimicrobial effect against these two pathogens. For all we know, the juice is also acting against the good bacteria that normally keep the pathogenic bacteria down (in a healthy person). It may well be true the antimicrobial effect indicated has nothing to do with the high acidity, but it’s very acidic juice and that’s not particularly good for the teeth, any more than apple cider vinegar is good for the teeth. As you stated, this is easily mitigated by mixing the juice with some alkaline item and food. Please if possible shed more light on whether the
    positive effects against pathogens are also acting against one’s microbiome, and possible ways to mitigate the acidity that if not tempered could be causing damage to the enamel.

    1. Hi Martin,

      Pomegranates and their juices do nothing to the oral bacteria. In fact, no food really messes with the bacteria themselves.

      However, the issue is the highly acidic environment that these juices create, which makes the bacteria thrive, and their action in producing diseases such as decay and periodontal disease increases.

      This acidic environment is also why it is not advisable to brush directly after their consumption.. Since you would literally be pushing the acid into the teeth

      What we can do to enjoy these foods is by trying to neutralize the acidic environment after consuming them. That can be done through rinsing the mouth with water, as well as consume more alkaline products such as milk and salty products.

      Dr.Mohamed Tarek
      BDS, MFDS RCSEd, Member of AACD

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