OK, actually that’s just a catchy title. So far, there’s no “beer for better health” (although on these beautiful, sunny, hot Portland days you may be wishing that). However, there is a side product of beer that may be good for your teeth: hop leaves.
The Hype Behind Hops
As you may know, when Dr. De Graff is not seeing patients he is a part-time brewmaster, and he’d be the first to tell you that one of the key ingredients in beer is the female flowers of the hop plant, humulus lupulus, which are called– conveniently–hops. These cone-shaped flowers are responsible for beer’s bitter finish as well as its aroma.
What do hops and dentistry have in common?
Scientists are now taking a closer look at not the flowers, but the hop plant’s leaves. Because this part of the plant is not used in brewing, hop leaves are thrown out after harvesting the cones. However, researchers have found that compounds present in discarded hop leaves may help fight cavities and gum disease.
Researcher Yoshihisa Tanaka and colleagues report findings that extracts from the hop leaf halted disease-causing bacteria in its tracks. These extracts prevented bacteria from sticking to the surface of teeth, thereby blocking it from producing an infection.
In addition, Tanaka reports that hop-leaf compounds (there are more than 20 discovered) have antioxidant properties and may prevent the release of some bacterial toxins.
Hoppy Ever After
If research continues to show these results to be true (by duplicating the findings and further research), hop growers will have a new product to sell!
In the meantime, brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups with brewmaster Dr. De Graff (or of course our other fabulous dentists, Drs. Kierkegaarde and Wilson!) is the best way to maintain optimal dental health.
If you, like all of us at Burlingame Dental Arts, your kids dentist in Portland OR, are excited by new research and want to learn more– check out the story here at the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.