Everything we know about the relationship between drinking wine and maintaining a healthy smile is negative. There’s the staining—sometimes severe—from red varieties, and the high level of acidity, especially in white wine, which weakens enamel and can eat away at the calcium in your teeth, leading to more serious issues. Dentists have long warned their patients about the effects of alcohol on teeth, which is why the results of a new study are so shocking.
The findings, conducted by the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggest that drinking wine may in fact protect teeth thanks to antioxidant-rich micronutrients it contains called polyphenols, which help destroy bacteria that cause plaque, cavities and gum disease.
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To reach this conclusion, the researchers worked with cells that model gum tissue and discovered that two polyphenols found in wine—caffeic and p-courmaric acids—helped reduce the bacteria’s ability to stick to the cells. Study author, Dr. Victoria Moreno-Arribas, said, “Delivery methods for these compounds to treat oral disorders should be optimized. Mouthwashes and chewing gums have been proposed as interesting matrices for the application of dietary polyphenols in the management of oral health.” Translation: This discovery could spark a new trend of wine-inspired oral care products that contain these ingredients.
Although this news is creating a big buzz, it’s safe to say many dentists are skeptical. We spoke to Beverly Hills, CA cosmetic dentist Kourosh Maddahi, DDS, who has his own line of oral care products, Oral Essentials, to get his thoughts on the research.
“Killing bacteria is the wrong concept in the mouth,” says Dr. Maddahi. “More than 98 percent of the bacteria in the mouth are protective bacteria that are shielding us against viruses, infections and diseases. Alcohol indiscriminately kills bacteria. The acidity and staining effect, and the fact it kills bacteria, makes it the wrong choice.”
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Although more studies need to be conducted before we reach the point (if we ever do) of vino-infused toothpaste, you can’t deny the dry feeling your teeth get after a couple glasses of wine—not to mention what it does to your breath—so this is one study that seems tough to get behind.
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