It is already well known that moderate consumption of red wine can have health benefits for the heart but recent research suggests that red wine may also benefit teeth by preventing cavities. A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry investigates the effects red wine has in inhibiting the growth of biofilms that cause cavities to form.
How Cavities Form
In this study, the research team explained that the forming of dental cavities is a unique habit of the human body which occurs when the microbial species that live within the human mouth gather on the surface of the tooth and form a biofilm. These microbial species can adhere to the surface of the tooth for a long time because teeth have “non-shedding” surfaces and bacteria such as streptococci and lactobacilli eventually form a symbiotic relationship within the dental plaque. These bacteria can produce high levels of organic acids that de-mineralize the teeth which can cause gum disease or tooth loss.
Preventing Cavities by Preventing Biofilms
Antimicrobial agents are often prescribed to help reduce the formation of biofilms but they also have side effects such as reduced taste, discoloration of the gums, and increasing drug resistance in the bacteria. Therefore, researchers are looking for natural products that can help control the formation of biofilms.
The researchers of this study mention that polyphenols from tea and cranberries as well as phenolic extracts from wine and grapes have recently been shown to disrupt the growth of bacteria such as Streptococcus. They investigated the possibility of using red wine to prevent biofilm production with a biofilm model of a dental plaque that integrated five species of bacteria known for causing dental cavities. The biofilm cultures were each put in red wine, alcohol-free red wine, red wine with grape seed extract, water, and 12% ethanol for a couple minutes.
They discovered that the red wine with grape seed extract, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, was the most effective at inhibiting the growth of the bacteria. According to the researchers:
“These findings contribute to existing knowledge about the beneficial effects of red wines (one of the most important products of agriculture and food industries) on human health. Moreover, the promising results concerning grape seed extract, which showed the highest antimicrobial activity, open promising ways toward a natural ingredient in the formulation of oral care products specifically indicated for the prevention of caries, due to its antimicrobial properties.”