According to researchers cranberries, well-known for their ability to help thwart urinary tract infections, may also help prevent tooth decay and cavities.
It seems that the same sticky compounds in the small red fruit that help keep bacteria at bay in the bladder also appear to help prevent bacteria from clinging to teeth.
The dental researchers also found that it appeared to help ward off plaque, the gooey substance formed from bits of food, saliva, and acid that can harbour bacteria and eventually irritate the gums.
Hyun Koo, an oral biologist at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York, says there is a need to find compounds that prevent dental cavities.
He says they aim to extract the berry's protective properties and add them to toothpaste or mouthwash.
It is however unclear exactly why the fruit is so effective.
Koo however does warn against drinking or eating excessive amounts of cranberry-containing products as most at present contain added sugar, which is the main cause of cavities.
The fruit is apparently full of a natural acid that can strip away essential minerals in teeth, he says so there are also some negative factors that prevent them advising a 'swish with cranberry juice'.
During the study, researchers coated a synthetic material that acts like tooth enamel, called hydroxyapatite, with cranberry juice, and then applied the cavity-causing bacteria streptococcus mu tans, plaque, or gulcan, a type of enzyme that builds plaque.
The results, which took about seven months to obtain, showed cranberries were about 80 percent effective in protecting teeth, Koo said.
Apparently more laboratory tests are needed to try to isolate the active compounds before clinical trials with patients can be considered.
Koo's study is part of series of projects sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to study cranberries' health benefits.
The agency is also studying the fruit's impact on urinary tract infections and how it is processed by the body.
Tooth decay is one of the most common conditions among Americans, second only to the common cold, according to the NIH.
The research is reported in the January issue of the journal Caries Research.