Beer, Hops, and Battling Cavities


If you’re a beer fan, and if you live in Oregon chances are pretty high that you are, then there’s some good news: hops, one of the key ingredients in making beer, can actually help you fight cavities. A new study out in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that the hops that are not used in beer making are rich in antioxidants, which may drop the risk of cavities and gum disease. So, though downing a pint at your local bar may not help your oral health yet, there are a couple different ways that those hops can help you teeth. At McKenzie River Dental, your Eugene, Oregon dentist of choice, we want to let you know about the latest in dental health news, so read on to learn more!

Leaves and Bracts

The part of hops not used in making beer may have the right properties to thwart gum disease and decay. It’s really all about the leaves and their bracts, or the small, leaf-like structure often found under a plant’s flower. The scientists from the American Chemical Society, who authored the report, found that hop leaves, not the buds used to give beer that springy tang, are the answer. The researchers noted that polyphenols in the bracts of the leaves inhibited the bacteria that is known to cause periodontitis and tooth decay. These unwanted oral bacteria can lead to inflammation in the gums and gum disease. The polyphenols from bracts stop the bacteria from sticking to the surface of the gums, and because of these effects, gums and teeth remain healthier.

Beer’s Discarded Waste May Be Key

According to the Beer Institute and Brewers Association, the U.S. consumes 50 billion pints of beer annually. That a lot of beer, and a lot of hops! In fact, in the U.S. alone, over 4,000,000 pounds of hops leaves are discarded every year, so a stock of the helpful bracts would be easy to source. The thinking is that this discarded harvest could be put into many different types of oral products to protect teeth from decay. The researchers, who were headed by Yoshihisa Tanaka from Asahi Group Holdings research laboratories, also found three new compounds in the study. These were amongst the 20 already-known compounds that occur in hops.

Full of Antioxidants Too

The study titled “Comprehensive Separation and Structural Analyses of Polyphenols and Related Compounds from Bracts of Hops (Humulus lupulus L.)” also identified significant quantities of proanthocyanidins, which are known to be antioxidants that are beneficial to the human body. Antioxidants are good for us because they are full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that may defend cells in your body against free radicals, which harm cells and reduce your immune system.

Call any of our helpful staff and Eugene dentists at McKenzie River Dental with any dental related questions. We all enjoy keeping current on oral health and dental health news and technology, and we also take all your concerns seriously. We firmly believe that good overall health starts with good oral health.