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Win for the wine

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New research suggests that red wine could help in maintaining oral health. So should you replace your oral healthcare products with red wine to keep cavities at bay? Well, not quite. Pranika Sharma tells you more

Over the years there have been many studies and lots of research on wine —it’s benefits and downsides — with wins and losses for both sides. A recent study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, says that the polyphenols in red wine prevent germs and bacteria present in our saliva from sticking to our teeth and gums, assisting in oral health. Here we’re telling you more about the study.

The study was led by Spanish researcher, M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas, at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, and found that the compounds in wine had antimicrobial properties, that they didn’t affect the cells of the mouth negatively and that they showed an ability to inhibit oral pathogens (bacteria) from sticking to the teeth and gums. These bacteria strains are known to cause dental plaques, cavities and gum disease.

In previous studies, researchers have found that polyphenols impact the bacteria in the gut as they are absorbed into the small intestine and fend off the harmful bacteria that pose a threat to our health. Continuing on this line of thinking, Moreno-Arribas and colleagues looked into whether the polyphenols found in red wine and grapes could have a similar protective effect in the mouth, fending off harmful oral bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

Red wine consists of two types of polyphenols, caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid. The researchers tested the effects of these on the harmful bacteria that are usually present in the mouth. These results were compared with the results obtained from the effects of the polyphenols extracted from grapes. They saw that the two polyphenols found in red wine were more effective at repelling the harmful oral bacteria which did not attach to the teeth and gums.

Further, the researchers combined the two polyphenols with an oral probiotic called Streptococcus dentisani, and this proved even more successful, since the effect of the polyphenols was enhanced by the probiotic. The study concludes that the polyphenols found in red wine have a protective effect on oral health.

Don’t be so quick to bring out a bottle of red wine and replace it with your mouth wash. The study was done outside of the human body, in simulated conditions, and showed results only when exposed to the components for a fairly long period of time — 47 hours or longer. Also, the results of the study need to be researched further to determine exactly what is stopping this bacteria from growing.

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser at The British Dental Association, says that although the study is interesting, people should not start drinking more. “In fact,” he says, “the acidic nature of wine means that consuming a lot of these drinks will damage the enamel of the teeth. Therefore, until the benefits of this research are shown clinically, it is best to consume wine in moderation and with a meal to minimise the risk of tooth erosion.”

Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, adds, “This is interesting work done on cells outside of the body, but it is very preliminary and so one must be very cautious about extrapolating these results to any current health advice. The findings suggest some compounds called phenols should be investigated further for their roles in preventing bacteria binding to cells and causing infection, but this needs much validation.”

You don’t need to guzzle wine for good oral health. There are substitutes that have similar compounds.

  • Coffee
  • Green tea
  • Black tea
  • Orange juice and lemon juice
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Kiwifruit
  • Black grapes
  • Cherries
  • Beans
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