Dental News

Researchers Look to Red Wine in Fight Against Tooth Decay

February 11, 2016

Red wine contains bacteria-fighting chemicals but this doesn’t mean drinking is good for your oral health.

Researchers Look to Red Wine in Fight Against Tooth DecayIn recent years, red wine has been touted for many different health benefits, including its role in promoting healthy sleep, reducing the risk of heart disease, and fighting aging in general with powerful anti-oxidants. Some news outlets have even reported that red wine can help fight cavities.

It is very important to understand that even though there are chemicals in red wine that can prevent tooth decay, this does not necessarily mean drinking red wine will give you this benefit.

What Researchers Have Discovered

Researchers from various universities in Italy have found that—under laboratory conditions—chemicals in de-alcoholised red wine can interfere with the way common tooth decay-causing bacteria like Streptococcus mutans bind to the surface of an extracted tooth in a petri dish. If the bacteria can’t stick to teeth, then it follows they can’t cause decay and cavities. The end goal of this research is to isolate a chemical that could be extracted from red wine and used in a toothpaste to provide this cavity-fighting benefit.

What Happens When You Drink Red Wine

When you drink red wine in real life, obviously you are not under ideal laboratory conditions. Many other things are going on that can counteract the benefits of any tooth-decay-preventing chemicals:

Exposure: In order to have the chemicals in red wine interfere with the bonding of tooth decay bacteria to your teeth, you would have to hold it in your mouth for a certain amount of time. This is not likely to match up with normal drinking habits. Plus, you would not really want to let red wine sit on your teeth because it can cause staining.

Alcohol: The researchers were working with de-alcoholised red wine. Drinking alcohol can actually have a negative effect on your oral health because heavy drinking has been linked to increased incidence of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. It is not clear if moderate drinking of red wine with alcohol would have a net positive or net negative effect.

Sugars & Acids: One final issue with drinking red wine is that it contains sugars and acids. Sugars can actually feed oral bacteria and cause cavities, while acids can weaken tooth enamel causing sensitivity and enamel erosion.

Remember to Visit the Dentist Often

When it comes to taking care of your teeth and protecting them from tooth decay, you do not want to be following media fads such as this one that suggests drinking red wine is good for your oral health. Instead, you want to rely on your dentist’s advice. Proper oral care, including home care and routine dental cleanings, is still the best way to prevent tooth decay. To learn more, schedule a visit to one of the dentists at California Dental Group now.

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