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A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, led by Maria Victoria Moreno-Arribas has shocked wine lovers around the world with the announcement that red wine may actually help prevent cavities from forming. This is a huge find, not just for those who enjoy consuming this alcoholic beverage with their meals, but also for the dental world at large. Dentistry has come a long way over the past century, but dental disease is still a common occurrence, even in North America where there are thousands of practicing dentistry clinics open to the public.

Previous Methods Of Dental Care

The more common methods of tooth care begin with brushing, but there are multiple variances in these hygiene practices that many people aren’t aware of. Despite brushing and flossing being proactively advertised throughout the country, previous studies have shown that many people don’t bother with floss after a meal. The idea is that if you don’t feel as though there’s something stuck between your teeth then you needn’t bother, but the truth of the matter is, it isn’t always the things that you can feel that will affect your oral health in the long run. Much of the decay in your mouth is caused by plaque that builds up on and between your teeth as biofilms gather and create bacteria. This plaque then causes acid, which eats away at the protective outer layers of your teeth, and eventually begins to rot them. Sciencedaily.com explains: “Cavities, periodontal disease and tooth loss affect an estimated 60 to 90 percent of the global population. The problems start when certain bacteria in the mouth get together and form biofilms, which are communities of bacteria that are difficult to kill.”

For this reason brushing with fluoride based toothpaste is the norm, although some choose to use more easily found products such as baking soda and water. Flossing is also mandatory practice for good oral hygiene, and although mouthwash is optional, it does help rid your mouth of remaining bacteria, and gets into hard to reach crevices of the mouth that even the floss can’t always get to.

Red Wine For Better Teeth

The research currently being released pinpoints the reason that this red wine prevention method works as being due to the polyphenols that are present in the wine being consumed. These same polyphenols are also present in grape seed extract, but as most people don’t swish their mouths with grape seed extract regularly, consuming a glass of red wine in the evenings is more likely to be of use to the majority of the population. The polyphenols help to reduce growth of bacteria, which is why Maria Victoria Moreno-Arribas decided to test the reaction on teeth.

The Experiment

In order to prove that red wine could possibly have a positive effect on the health of teeth and gums, the research team conducted an experiment. The biofilms were submerged in various liquids to test the resistance of the bacteria to the ingredients in the different mixtures. Red wine with alcohol, red wine without alcohol, red wine mixed with grade seed extract, as well as twelve percent ethanol mixed with water. Emma Innes of The Daily Mail reports: “Red wine with or without alcohol and wine with grape seed extract were the most effective at getting rid of the bacteria.”

These results conclude that red wine does in fact have a positive effect on the prevention of decay causing bacteria on teeth and gums, and has led to further research in the concept of grape extracts medical uses. The project was funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, also known as MINECO, the Comunidad de Madrid, and CONSOLIDER INGENIO 2010.

What This Means In The Future

Alongside this new venue for development in the healing properties of grapes and wine, these findings have catapulted the initiation of new projects that include future products to harness the polyphenols found in red wine. CTV News advises: “Researchers say their findings could be used to harness the cavity-fighting powers of red wine and incorporate them into products like mouthwashes and toothpaste.”

Although dental associations have previously warned against too much wine as a teeth damaging agent, this is generally geared toward white wines which acidic levels strip teeth of their protective coatings. Fortunately, red wine has much lower levels of these acids, but it does have the tendency to stain. This may mean that a combined product that includes these grape additives and whitening ingredients will be necessary. In the meantime, if you plan on using red wine as a bacteria fighter you can keep your teeth white by brushing soon after you’ve finished drinking, eating high fiber foods that will help loosen wine from teeth so that it can’t set, and hard cheese that is rich in calcium, as it can actually coat the teeth.

As with any alteration in your diet, medical, or dental practices, it may be wise to consult a doctor or dentist before you begin adding red wine to your list of daily teeth care products. Ingesting alcohol of any kind is a practice that many researchers have been on the fence about for years. In regards to red wine there have been studies that have concluded that the antioxidants may be good for anti-aging and even the heart, while other studies have supplied negative findings that suggest avoiding regular alcohol consumption is better for your health.