Red wine might stain your teeth but recent research shows it can protect them from decay. Italian scientists have shown that red wine makes it difficult for harmful bacteria to cling to teeth, and in a statement on the UK’s National Health Service site, concluded that the prevention of tooth decay “may be another beneficial effect of the moderate consumption of red wine.” The bacteria responsible for most dental decay is streptococcus mutans, it causes the damage by sticking to tooth enamel and living off sugar. Once the streptococcus mutans bacterium takes hold, it triggers demineralization of enamel allowing acid erosion to create pits.
Following the lead of scientists in USA who discovered last year that chemicals in the skins and seeds of wine grapes blocked the ability of bacteria to bind with tooth enamel, researchers at Italy’s Pavia University conducted experiments using red wine. To rule out any effect of alcohol on the research, they used an Italian wine with all its alcohol removed and found that it had the same effect of making it difficult for bacteria to attach themselves and also prevented them from forming a layer of biofilm on teeth.
The active protective ingredient is a group of compounds found mainly in grape skins called proanthocyanidins, which are high in antioxidants. Scientists are now investigating the possibility of extracting the compounds and using them as a form of treatment on their own.