Could Red Wine Be The Key to Preventing Gum Disease?

Portland periodontist

Over the years, researchers have discovered a number of surprising benefits when it comes to drinking red wine. Previous research has suggested that drinking a glass of red wine a day may actually help lower an individual’s risk for a variety of health conditions, including dementia, diabetes, and heart disease. However, the latest findings regarding red wine are enough to make your Portland periodontist take notice.

According to researchers in Spain, a laboratory study now suggests that the polyphenols in red wine could also potentially protect our teeth from the bacteria responsible for the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

The results of this study were recently published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Red Wine, Super Food?

Polyphenols, the compound most responsible for providing red wine with its super food properties, is commonly found in a variety of fruits and plants. The antioxidant properties of this compound have been well understood and examined previously in a number of studies.

Red wine ranks as a rich source of dietary polyphenols, with a number of studies providing evidence that these compounds possess benefits that promote better overall health. Research also suggests they may also have an impact on microbiota in the stomach. However, what researchers don’t yet fully understand, such as the case with red wine, is what impact these compounds can have on our oral health and oral microbiota.

A healthy oral microbiome contains over 700 species, most of which exist within dental plaque, say researchers. The species of bacteria vary due to a variety of environmental stimuli, including an individual’s diet and oral hygiene habits, which can easily change the balance that exists between healthy and harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Species that prove harmful for our oral health and that erode tooth enamel include Streptococus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, while gum disease is often linked with the presence of bacteria that include Porphyromonas gingivalis and Treponema denticola, both of which release endotoxins that cause the damage to gum tissue and inflammation that leads to gum disease.

In their study, researchers used cells that mimic gum tissue to test the effects of two red wine polyphenols, as well as grape seed and red wine extracts that were commercially available, on the bacteria that stick to the surface of our teeth and cause gum disease and dental decay to develop.

Researchers also examined the effects of combining red wine polyphenols with Streptococcus dentisani, an oral microbiome species that they believe could act as an oral probiotic. Their testing found that the polyphenols successfully prevented S. mutans adhesion to tooth enamel by up to 40 percent. The red wine polyphenols were also far more effective when compared to either types of wine extracts researchers also tested.

The ability to block bacteria from sticking to tooth enamel was even more pronounced when the polyphenols were combined with the oral probiotic, noted the research team.

Researchers are quick to caution that the results of this latest study are preliminary, and no final conclusions should be drawn about red wine’s ability to fight gum disease until further research can explore this connection. However, the findings of this study do offer an intriguing possibility into what red wine consumption may mean for our long-term health.

Now the Bad News

While red wine may indeed possess a number of truly remarkable healthy benefits, what’s not under debate is the fact that drinking red wine will stain your teeth. Red wine is also acidic, which can change the pH in our mouths to make it easier for harmful oral bacteria to erode away at tooth enamel.

However, if the results of this study are proven correct, red wine may prove to do more good than harm.

Regardless of whether enjoy the occasionally glass of wine or not, it’s important that you continue to practice quality oral hygiene at home to successfully lower your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. While diet may very well play an important role in keeping your gums healthy, your Portland periodontist wants you to know that there’s no substitution for brushing and flossing.

So cheers the idea of red wine helping to fight gum disease, and cheers to you for making your oral health a top priority.