When we think of red wine and teeth, we usually think “stains.” While it’s true that drinking red wine can stain your teeth, this habit may be able to do more to help protect your pearly whites than you originally thought.
A recent study has shown that the same elements in red wine that make it great for protecting against heart disease could also be responsible for its protective effects on the mouth as well.
Red wine is known to be a rich source of ‘polyphenols.’ These are potent antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease when they are consumed on a regular basis. Many doctors already recommend drinking a glass of red wine every day to help keep the heart healthy.
Now this beverage may start getting recommendations from dentists, too. However, a responsible dentist would insist you brush your teeth right after indulging in your “health drink.”
Results from the study have shown that red wine can kill off the bacteria responsible for periodontal disease. This has only been shown in test tubes, but there’s so much promise to this potential treatment that it’s likely a human clinical trial will soon follow.
The anti-inflammatory effects of the polyphenols seem to be responsible for the positive effects of the wine. Periodontitis is a serious and potentially chronic disease that could cause anything from mild pain and bleeding to the eventual loss of teeth. The disease, caused by plaque, creates inflammation in gum tissue.
The most common cause of this condition is poor oral hygiene, but many other activities can increase your risk as well. People who smoke are at a highly increased risk of this condition, as are people with diabetes. Also, some medications — such as oral contraceptives, steroids, and some cancer drugs — can increase the risk of periodontitis.
By slowing down the action of free radicals in the mouth, red wine may be able to curb the damaging inflammation caused by dental bacteria. This could end up saving your teeth. Just remember that your best bet for preventing gum disease is to brush your teeth after every meal and snack, and to floss at least once daily. Getting to drink wine for your mouth’s sake would simply be a healthy bonus — not an excuse to neglect your oral hygiene.