Casey Chesterfield
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What Does Wine Do to Your Teeth?

Everything has its pros and cons.

Red wine long been considered healthy in moderation. From heart health to increased bone density, red wine is associated with numerous health benefits. Although drinking wine leads to stained teeth, recent research has revealed that red wine may actually benefit your oral health. With that in mind, here are some reasons why you should pick up a bottle of red wine on your next trip to the liquor store.

Red wine contains polyphenols.

While the deep flavors of Merlot and Cabernet can make any meal seem richer and more sophisticated, these drinks also boast a variety of health benefits. Merlot and Cabernet contain polyphenols, which are a type of phytochemical believed to have antioxidant properties. Resveratrol, a polyphenolic compound found naturally in red wine, has been shown to prevent cancer, heart disease, and various neurodegenerative illnesses.

Polyphenols are a large class of chemical compounds found naturally in plants. Polyphenols are characterized by more than one phenol unit per molecule. They add astringency and bite to foods, which creates the back palate of red wine. Polyphenols fight the damaging effect of free radicals to slow down the aging of cells. Polyphenols have been shown to keep the brain young, improve hormonal health, and aid in heart disease prevention.

Polyphenols and Oral Health

A more recent study focused on the effect of polyphenols on oral health. In the study, scientists compared two types of polyphenols commonly found in red wine (caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid) along with red wine and grape seed extracts (Provinols and Vitaflavan). Scientists then compared the effects of these compounds on three types of harmful oral bacteria: Fusobacterium nucleatum, Streptococcus mutans, and Porphyromonas gingivalis.

Experimenting with a laboratory model of gum tissue, scientists found that the two red wine polyphenols were more effective at repelling harmful bacteria and preventing them from attaching to healthy gum tissue. Scientists also found that a mix of caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and the oral probiotic Streptococcus dentisani (which stimulates the growth of good bacteria) are even more helpful in preventing tooth decay and inhibiting pathogenic bacteria.

Finally, scientists found that phenolic metabolites, which are formed as polyphenols begin transforming in the mouth, are likely the active ingredient associated with the protective effect of polyphenols. Scientists believe that these findings may ultimately lead to a change in dental services and treatments.

Drinking in Moderation

The numerous health benefits associated with red wine can help you skip the guilt the next time you’re out at dinner. However, it’s important to remember not to overdo it. Red wine is an alcoholic beverage and should be consumed in moderation, as drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, and weight gain. Additionally, the acidic nature of wine may damage tooth enamel if consumed too frequently.

For healthy adults, moderation means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men over the age of 65, as well as up to two drinks a day for men under the age of 65. Because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do, the limit for men is higher. A drink of wine is defined as five ounces or 148 mL.

While red wine has been previously linked to a wide range of health benefits, new research suggests that polyphenols can help in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. All in all, it’s important to remember to drink wine in moderation. If you’re unsure whether red wine could help improve your health, speak with a doctor before adding it to your diet.

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