Drinking Wine Could Keep Your Teeth Healthy and Prevent Gum Disease

A bottle of wine photographed at The Standard in New York in October 2017. The latest research on wine says it could help prevent tooth decay. Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Red wine is often lauded for an array of health benefits, including lowering heart disease risk and increasing longevity. A new study adds to that list with evidence that it may help prevent gum disease.

Related: Heavy Alcohol Consumption Increases Risk of Dementia

Before diving into the latest research, here's a little background on why many believe wine is good for our health. Natural compounds known as polyphenols have been shown to be a good source of antioxidants. Polyphenols are found in many types of foods, including cherries, berries and grapes—and therefore, wine. Red wine, in particular, is abundant in polyphenols, which is why people often choose these varieties for health purposes.

There's a wealth of research analyzing polyphenols' impact on heart health and disease prevention. Recent studies suggest these compounds could impact gut bacteria and offer a prebiotic effect, helping your gut produce healthy bacteria. The authors of this particular study wanted to delve further into polyphenols' effects on bacteria, but inside of the mouth.

For the experiment, Spanish researchers looked at how two types of polyphenols found in wine reacted to bacteria found in the mouth, compared to grape seed and red wine extract. Specifically, they examined oral bacteria responsible for tooth decay and cavities by sticking to teeth and gums.

They found that the wine polyphenols were better at deterring bacteria from sticking to cells, similar to those inside our mouths, than the extracts. Provinols and vitaflavan were the extracts used in the study.

The research is preliminary, but, say the authors, the findings provide strong evidence that further studies looking at how wine could prevent oral diseases should be conducted. The study was published February 21 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

It seems that wine is having another moment in the spotlight this month. Earlier this week, another researcher reported that people who drank two glasses of beer or wine every day decreased their risk of dying prematurely by 18 percent.

These studies have simply indicated a link, but no causal relationship. And it's important to consider the research linking alcohol to cancer, as well as an increased risk of dementia, when making choices about drinking habits. Many health professionals caution that alcohol is safe only when consumed in moderation, at most.