The findings are intriguing, dentists say, but don't toss out your mouthwash and toothpaste yet.
The mouth is a virtual breeding ground for all kinds of microbial species, said researchers from Spain and Switzerland who were investigating natural remedies for fighting our mouthful of ick. Scientists grew cultures of cavity and gum disease-causing bacteria in a lab, then exposed those cultures to red wine, red wine extract, red wine spiked with grape seed extract and, for comparison, water. In moderate concentrations, red wine inhibited the growth of some pathogens, and grape seed extract showed high antimicrobial activity, according to the study published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
“The results were surprising,” said study author, M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas. “They proved, for the first time, the antimicrobial properties of wine and other-related products in an oral biofilm model.” The authors hope more research can lead to the development of natural oral-care products that ward off dental diseases.
It's definitely an interesting finding, said Dr. Matthew Messina, consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. But, he says wine lovers shouldn't get carried away. The results are very preliminary. Plus, there are—go figure—some minuses.
“Red wine has the potential, in high amounts, to increase oral cancers,” Messina said. “And the stain from red wine makes the surfaces of the teeth rougher, so more stuff sticks to it.”
Instead, stick to the tried and true, Messina said: Brush twice a day, floss once a day, eat a healthy diet and see your dentist on a regular basis.
“It's not as sexy,” he said, “but it works!”
Messina isn't the only buzzkill out there, of course. Another recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine found resveratrol, a polyphenol in red wine that other studies have found to be beneficial, had no effect on the health of older adults.
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