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Towards functional foods for oral health care ? isolation, identification and evaluation of beverage and food components with anti-caries and/or anti-gingivitis activities

Final Report Summary - NUTRIDENT (Towards functional foods for oral health care - isolation, identification and evaluation of beverage and food components with anti-caries ...)

Dental caries and gingivitis are the most prevalent infectious diseases of humans and are due to the accumulation of dental plaque (a bacterial biofilm) on the tooth surface and at the gingival margin respectively. There is evidence that certain beverages and foods can protect against caries and gingivitis and this project was designed to build upon this work in order to identify beverage / food constituents that could help to maintain oral health. Such constituents could be incorporated into functional foods and / or into oral healthcare products.

As a starting point, the consortium selected a range of foods and beverages thought to maintain and promote oral health. Selection was based on an extensive literature search together with the expertise and knowledge of the consortium and included, amongst others, wine, coffee, tea, cranberries and beer. Extracts of the selected foods / beverages were prepared and chemically analysed to provide material suitable for subsequent investigations.

On the basis of this initial screening procedure, several extracts were identified that were active in a number of assays. We then focused on evaluating the potential anti-caries and anti-gingivitis activities of the low molecular mass extracts of the three most-promising foods / beverages identified. We further fractionated these extracts and re-tested them in order to identify the active constituents. The presence of these constituents in a wide variety of other plants was then ascertained.

Active fractions of the most promising foods / beverages were formulated into mouthwashes suitable for use in clinical studies in humans. The ability of these mouthwashes to prevent caries or gingivitis was evaluated in four pan-European clinical studies. One of the mouthwashes was found to have both anti-caries and anti-gingivitis potential. The most potent of the biologically active constituents were formulated for use in a functional food (chewing gum) and in oral healthcare products (mouthwashes). By identifying foods / beverages with oral health-promoting activities, isolating their active constituents and formulating these into functional foods, the main objectives of NUTRIDENT have been achieved.

Because of these promising outcomes, we have applied for a patent covering those extracts found to have oral health-promoting activities and the active compounds in these extracts. We are actively seeking an industrial partner interested in developing this technology, this could lead to several benefits throughout Europe including an improvement in oral health, wealth creation and increased employment opportunities in a number of sectors.