Put your pink drinks aside and consider pouring yourself a glass of red, because science just discovered that polyphenols in wine can actually protect your gums and teeth from bad bacteria known to cause cavities, gingivitis, and other smile-ruining issues. We’re not sure if this news is more exciting than the time we found out chocolate-flavored wine exists, but we know these stories can certainly co-exist nicely.
“The researchers checked out the effect of two red wine polyphenols, as well as commercially available grape seed and red wine extracts, on bacteria that stick to teeth and gums and cause dental plaque, cavities and periodontal disease,” according to Science Daily’s summary of the American Chemical Society’s research. “Working with cells that model gum tissue, they found that the two wine polyphenols in isolation—caffeic and p-coumaric acids—were generally better than the total wine extracts at cutting back on the bacteria’s ability to stick to the cells.”
That means polyphenols in wine quite literally go to work attacking the bad germs in your mouth as you enjoy each sip. The summary continues, “When combined with the Streptococcus dentisani, which is believed to be an oral probiotic, the polyphenols in wine were even better at fending off the pathogenic bacteria. The researchers also showed that metabolites formed when digestion of the polyphenols begins in the mouth might be responsible for some of these effects.”
Dentists tend to agree with the findings, too: “We already know that polyphenols are a good source of antioxidants that are naturally found in foods and drinks like blueberries and red wine,” explains Dr. Frederick Baker, DDS. “While we normally suggest avoiding red wine for its high acidity, these polyphenols can actually help to counter the bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease, which is a positive. There are over 4,000 polyphenol compounds and each can serve a different purpose.”