Scientists: Red wine protects against tooth decay and gum disease

The authors of a new study doubt that red wine is an independent migraine trigger. So has the migraine-inducing effect of the drink been overestimated? (Image: Syda Productions /

Does red wine protect against bacteria in the mouth?

Red wine consumption has been linked to a number of purported health benefits, from helping the heart to reducing the risk of diabetes. Researchers have now found that red wine contains substances that can help fight tooth decay and gum disease.


During their investigation, the scientists found that red wine can help fight off harmful bacteria in the mouth. The medical professionals published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry".

Does the consumption of red wine protect against gum disease and tooth decay? (Image: Syda Productions /

What do polyphenols do?

Compounds in red wine called polyphenols help fight off harmful bacteria in the mouth. Previous studies had suggested that the health benefits of polyphenols are linked to their antioxidant effects, which protect the body from harmful free radicals. However, recent studies have shown that polyphenols can also improve health by working with healthy bacteria in our gut. In the current study, the scientists analyzed whether wine polyphenols are also good for oral health.

Polyphenols prevent bacteria from adhering to cells

The researchers compared the effects of two red wine polyphenols and grape seed and red wine extract supplements on bacteria that cling to teeth and gums, causing plaque, tooth decay and gum disease. The polyphenols reduce the ability of bacteria to adhere to cells. In combination with the Streptococcus dentisani, which stimulates the growth of good bacteria, the polyphenols were even better able to inhibit the pathogenic bacteria.

What other fruits and drinks contain polyphenols?

Red wine is high in polyphenols, but they can also be found in a number of other beverages and foods. For example, coffee, green tea, black tea, and lemon juice all contain polyphenols. Many fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, kiwis and cherries also contain polyphenols.

There were limitations to the study

However, the authors explain that their study was limited by the fact that it was conducted outside the human body with cells that simulated gum tissue. More research is needed to find out more about what inhibits the bacteria, the doctors explain.

Metabolites responsible for the effect?

So-called metabolites are formed when the digestion of polyphenols begins in the mouth. These could be responsible for some of the effects in the study, the experts speculate. However, the results of the study should by no means motivate people to drink more alcohol.

Wine can damage tooth enamel

The acidic nature of wine can cause consumption of large amounts to damage tooth enamel. Until the benefits of this study have been clinically proven, therefore, it is best to consume wine in moderation and with a meal to minimize the risk of tooth erosion, say the medical professionals. (as)

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