For the study, which was published in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers grew bacterial cultures related to dental diseases, namely Streptococcus mutans. Then, they dipped them into different liquids including red wine, red wine without alcohol, red wine spiked with grape seed extract and water with 12 percent ethanol.
Red wine with or without alcohol as well as wine with grape seed extract proved the best at getting rid of bacteria. By fighting off odorous anaerobic bacteria with non-alcoholic red wine, you could also help avoid bad breath.
Dental diseases are extremely prevalent not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. An estimated 60 to 90 percent of the global population is affected by cavities, periodontal disease and tooth loss, according to the report.
The problem originates when harmful bacteria in the mouth gather to form biofilms, which are communities of bacteria that produce acid and plaque that damages the walls of the teeth. Of course, brushing with toothpastes that contain fluoride, flossing and rinsing your mouth out with alcohol-free mouthwash can help kill the bacterial plaque.
Yet even with the cavity-crushing power of red wine, the beverage doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Both red and white wine have been shown to cause teeth stains.
“This study is about applying something to the teeth that decreases bacteria.” Dr. Gary Glasband, a dentist in private practice in Long Beach, California, who was not involved in this study, told Prevention Magazine. “The effectiveness of this type of product [red wine] depends on how long it stays on the tooth, known as its ‘substantivity.’ Wine has a high substantivity, which you can see as it stains the teeth when you drink it.”
For the body as a whole, resveratrol, the key healthy ingredient in red wine, helps reduce the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (known as “bad” cholesterol), prevent blood clots and protect against blood vessel damage. All in all, research indicates that the wine tends to lower risk of heart disease.
So, yes, it’s a balancing act. Sip, but don’t overpour. Drinking a glass of red wine every now and then can lower your risk of tooth decay, but don’t indulge in too much of the bottle since it might leave you searching for some teeth whitening products.