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Red Wine As a Cavity Fighter

red wine for cavities

At your next visit to the dentist, he or she will not likely recommend red wine as a cavity fighter. However, new research does suggest that this beverage, with or without alcohol, can effectively eliminate bacteria that can lead to common dental problems.

Daily brushing, flossing, use of antimicrobial washes, and routine dental checkups have been the traditional ways to help preserve and maintain oral health, and they still reign. But in the continuing quest for newer, better, and often natural ways to achieve these goals, researchers have discovered that red wine and grape seed extract can take a bite out of cavity development.

An international team of researchers from Spain and Switzerland decided to follow up on previous work, which indicated that wine and polyphenols (a classification of plant nutrients) have a positive impact on microbial growth. The mouth is an excellent environment for bacteria to flourish, so they turned to the oral cavity.

In their lab experiments, the researchers grew cultures of bacteria that are associated with dental disease. More specifically, they worked with biofilms, which in dentistry are an accumulation of bacteria that resist removal from the teeth. These bacteria form plaque and acid, which in turn can result in cavities and other damage to the teeth and gums.

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When the researchers tested the biofilms in red wine, red wine without alcohol, red with mixed with grape seed extract, and water combined with 12 percent ethanol, they found that all three red wine were the most effective at eliminating bacteria.

What does this study mean for the average dental health care consumer? It means that experts have identified a natural potential cavity fighter that may, in the near future, be an ingredient in a treatment or preventive product for dental care.

Experts have already associated red wine (and in particular, its ingredient resveratrol) with a number of health benefits, especially regarding cardiovascular issues. We may be able to add red wine as a cavity fighter to the list, but stay tuned for further research before you run out to the liquor store.

Munoz-Gonzalez I et al. Red wine and oenological extracts display antimicrobial effects in an oral bacteria biofilm model. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry 2014; 62(20): 4731-37

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