Red wine can ‘help fight tooth decay’

New research has added further weight to the theory that wine, specifically the polyphenols found in red wine, could help fight tooth decay and gum disease.

The research suggests that polyphenols found in red wine could held fend off bad bacteria in the mouth

The benefits of drinking red wine in order to maintain oral health have previously been reported, however this latest study backs up previous findings. Other drinks rich in polyphenols include coffee, green tea, cider, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, cherries and beans.

Previous studies have suggested that polyphenols protect the body from harmful free radicals due to their antioxidants properties.

This most recent study, undertaken by a Spanish research team, takes that theory a step further, suggesting that polyphenols might also boost health by working with “good bacteria” in our gut, while also fending off harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Researchers tested the effects of two polyphenols from red wine – caffeic and p-coumaric acid – on bacteria that stick to teeth and gums and cause dental plaque, cavities and gum disease. They found the wine polyphenols reduced the bacteria’s ability to stick to the cells.

When combined with the Streptococcus dentisani – an oral probiotic that stimulates the growth of good bacteria – the polyphenols were even more effective at inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.

Dr Blessing Anonye, research fellow at Warwick Medical School, Microbiology & Infection, Biomedical Sciences, said the findings were not a “green light” to drink more wine, but could contribute towards treating oral disease.

“Previous research demonstrated that red wine and grape seed extracts prevented the growth of different bacteria that causes oral disease,” she said. “This new research went further to show that wine polyphenols inhibited the ability of disease-causing bacteria in the mouth to attach to gum cells when used alone or in combination with an oral probiotic.

“Furthermore, they revealed the ability of oral bacteria to process polyphenols and release metabolites which could aid in this process. This research has the potential of transforming the way that oral disease is treated”.

However the findings should be taken with some caution, as despite red wine containing beneficial polyphenols to support good oral health, the level of acid and sugar contained in wine can have a negative impact on tooth enamel.

Earlier this year, a dentist warned of the dangers of drinking too much Prosecco, or any carbonated beverage containing sugar, acid and alcohol, which he said could to a condition dubbed “a Prosecco smile”

“The signs of Prosecco smile are where the teeth come out of the gum. It starts with a white line just below the gum, which if you probe it is soft, and that is the beginning of tooth decay, which can lead to fillings and dental work,” said Dr Mervyn Druian of the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry.

The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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