Studies continue to tout the health benefits of the polyphenols in wine because they act as antioxidants.
Now, researchers say they have uncovered more benefits of the extracts in red wine. They may, in fact, be good for your teeth.
But before you grab that bottle of burgundy, take a closer look at the science.
A new study has concluded that red wine polyphenols, as well as red wine and grape seed extracts, may lower the ability of bad bacteria to stick to teeth.
These bacteria can cause plaque, cavities, and gum disease.
Using antiseptics and antibiotics to treat those conditions can cause unwanted effects, so M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas, a researcher with the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, wanted to study other options. She’s researched oral health and the gut microbiome before.
Moreno-Arribas looked at the impacts of two red wine polyphenols — caffeic and p-Coumaric acids — as well as commercially available grape seed and red wine extracts.
She wanted to see how they affected the bacteria that adhere to teeth. The study was conducted in an in vitro model — not on animals or humans.
“We tested concentrations in the range normally found in wine,” she explained.
Basically, our mouth has a protective biofilm that can safeguard it from harmful bacteria. But some bacteria stick to it and can penetrate the film, infecting our teeth and gums.
This is how you get cavities and other oral ailments.
Pass the wine?
Moreno-Arribas’ team found that the wine polyphenols, when isolated, worked better than the wine extracts at decreasing the bacteria’s ability to stick to cells.
When she added the probiotic Streptococcus dentisani, which is believed to be an oral probiotic, the polyphenols worked better at fending off harmful bacteria.
When the polyphenols are ingested, digestion begins and that could also explain some of the positive effects, she said.
What do the results mean for us?
Although the research needs to be further investigated, Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, a researcher at the Tufts University Antioxidants Research Laboratory in Massachusetts, was pleased with how the research was designed and carried out.
Testing it in animals or humans would be necessary to draw further conclusions, he told Healthline.
“The polyphenols prevent the adherence of the bad bacteria from forming the biofilms (which are inherently infectious) on gums and teeth (possibly by physically blocking attachment or modifying the bad bacteria to be less ‘sticky.’ This causes the bad bacteria to be washed away,” he added.
Moreno-Arribas said that the evidence suggests that oral probiotics and phenolic compounds could be a feasible strategy to manage oral diseases derived by microbial factors.
She recommended more studies in this area on living organisms to further the research.
That’s what Blumberg would like to see in order to further understand the findings.
“A real dynamic mouth is very much different then static cells in a petri dish,” he noted.
The American Dental Association lists wine as a beverage known to stain teeth.
Other studies have found wine to have protective properties against diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders, while also boosting gut health.