Does Wine Fight Cavities?

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Clean Teeth
Clean Teeth

Photo © greefus gone fishin


Not long ago I wrote about how {ln:wine-stain-teeth 'wine may stain teeth}, and disturbingly by etching tooth enamel through the acids in the wine, thus making future stains from other substances all the easier. That's not the final word on the effects of wine on dental health, though, because there is interesting evidence that the same acids which etch tooth enamel may also prevent tooth decay.

Gabriella Gazzani and colleagues at the faculty of pharmacy at the University of Pavia in Italy purchased basic supermarket wines (i.e., nothing special or aged) and found that they were able to limit the growth of bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Although the substances in wine responsible for controlling bacteria will work better when removed from the wine and used in concentration, people may still be able to get some of the benefits by drinking wine.

Scientists who once tested 16 Chilean reds showed antimicrobial activity against six strains of helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers. Others have shown red and white wines are as effective as bismuth salicylate (Pepto-Bismol) against "traveller's diarrhea."

As well, according to a background release, wine has been used "since antiquity" in wound healing. In the Bible, Luke tells how the Good Samaritan "went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine."

But this is the first study to show wine may have health benefits from the moment it wets lips and gum.

Gazzani's team, whose work will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, tested the bacteria-fighting activity of commercial red and white wines against eight strains of oral streptococci. The bacteria can colonize tooth surfaces, triggering plaque formation. They can also cause pharyngitis - infection of the pharynx or tonsils. ...

Gazzani says the organic acids in wine, such as acetic, citric, lactic, succinic and tartaric acids "are responsible for the antibacterial activity against oral streptococci." The acids are found naturally in grapes or are produced during fermentation.


I doubt we'll be seeing wine advertised any time soon for it's cavity-fighting abilities, but it is interesting to think that about how the same characteristic of wine may be responsible for both damage to your teen and protection for your teeth. Cavities are worse than stains, so on the whole you probably come out ahead, but it's too bad you can't dispense with the negative effects while still getting the positive effects.

Now if only wine can be shown to help you shed fat while gaining muscle mass, we'll all be set...


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