Is Red Wine Good or Bad for Teeth?
New research suggests red wine can kill bacteria responsible for cavities.
Most people who are seeking to maintain white, healthy, beautiful teeth believe that red wine belongs firmly on the list of foods and beverages to avoid. After all, like many dark beverages, red wine does contain compounds that can stain teeth over time, especially if you consume red wine regularly.
However, new research suggests that red wine may help teeth more than it hurts them. After all, staining issues can almost always be corrected or at least improved with professional teeth whitening. Tooth decay and gum disease, on the other hand, are more difficult to correct. If red wine can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease by killing the plaque bacteria that cause these problems, many more people might look favorably on the beverage despite its potential for staining.
In a report that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researcher M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas and colleagues tested the theory that certain compounds in red wine can slow bacterial growth.
First, the researchers grew cultures of bacteria responsible for dental diseases in biofilms similar to what you would find on your teeth. Then, they dipped these biofilms into different liquids. Red wine, red wine with grape seed extract, alcohol-free red wine, water, and 12 percent ethanol were all tested. They found that the red wine in whatever form did indeed kill the bacteria and was more effective than the ethanol.
This research has led some to speculate that natural products based on the properties of red wine could soon be added to our dental care arsenal. The need for natural products is clear, considering that the antimicrobial rinses we have now tend to affect a person’s taste and change their gum color.
While red wine killed some bacteria in a lab setting, it is not yet proven what it may do in a real world setting. The fact that there are tons of different strains of bacteria found in the mouth may complicate matters.
So Should You Add Red Wine to Your Diet?
Not necessarily. The most effective means of protecting yourself against dental diseases continues to be good oral care at home and at your dentist’s office. Brushing your teeth or simply rinsing your mouth with water after drinking red wine will help reduce the risk of staining, tooth decay, and gum disease.