Wine drinkers have long been familiar with the short-term effect of red wine on teeth: it turns them purple. But what about the long-term effects? A new study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry claims drinking red wine could actually promote dental health.
According to the chemists who conducted the study at the Spanish National Research Council, polyphenols found in red wine can help prevent plaque- and cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to gums and causing gum disease and tooth decay.
Don’t go starting and ending your day with a glass of cabernet just yet, though – at least not in the name of dental health.
The focus of the study was polyphenols, not red wine, and the concentration found in red wine is a lot lower than then the specific compounds analyzed. The authors of the study noted the research was limited by the fact that it was conducted in a lab setting and not in the human mouth.
Not all are convinced of the findings.
"In fact, the acidic nature of wine means that consuming a lot of these drinks will damage the enamel of the teeth," professor Damien Walmsley, the British Dental Association's scientific adviser, told BBC. “Therefore, until the benefits of this research are shown clinically, it is best to consume wine in moderation and with a meal to minimize the risk of tooth erosion."
The same polyphenols found in wine are common in various other foods and drinks, including coffee, tea, cider, various citrus fruits and berries.
Polyphenols are also thought to be responsible for the antioxidants in wine that purportedly fight off free radicals, and recently polyphenols in non-alcoholic beer gained attention for reportedly helping German olympians fight off inflammation after training and competing.