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July 17, 2014

Red Wine: Does It Prevent Tooth Decay!?

Recent media reports have suggested that red wine may show promise as a cavity fighter. Well, they do say, don't believe everything you hear in the news! A recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry implies that red wine, with and without alcohol, as well as grape seed extract could prevent dental diseases with fewer side effects than oral antibiotics or antibiotic-containing mouth rinses.

Cavities and gum disease start when certain oral bacteria form biofilms. These bacteria, such as streptococci or lactobacilli, are able to produce acids in high levels following the fermentation of dietary sugars. These acids demineralize (soften) the surface of the teeth, eventually leading to cavities. Currently used antimicrobial rinses such as Peridex (Chlorhexidine Gluconate) have been shown to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth, but have the side effects of tooth discoloration and taste alteration. Thus, people are less likely to use them for as long as they should to effectively kill biofilm bacteria.

In the aforementioned study, biofilms were dipped into different liquids, including red wine, red wine without alcohol, red wine spiked with grape seed extract, and water with 12 percent ethanol. Red wine with or without alcohol, and red wine with grape seed extract were the most effective at getting rid of the bacteria F. Nucleatum and S. oralis which affect gum health. The red wine, however, had NO effect on the growth of S. mutans, which is the bacteria associated with tooth decay.

Could this mean that red wine may be good for periodontal health? Because the theory has not yet been tested on humans, one would have to replicate the experimental conditions to see a beneficial effect: holding the red wine in the mouth for two minutes every seven hours for seven days.

At this time, the only proven methods to fight tooth decay and gum disease are to brush twice per day with a fluoridated toothpaste, clean between the teeth with floss once per day, limit sugar intake, and visit the dentist regularly.

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