Does red wine prevent cavities?

Wine glass photoAh, red wine. A glass an hour or more before bedtime can help you sleep. When properly paired with food, it can enhance the flavor of the meal. Along with dark chocolate, it is credited with helping to prevent heart disease.

And now… drum roll… a recent study has suggested that red wine may help prevent cavities.

A widely reported study, published recently in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, suggests that red wine inhibits the growth of certain bacteria found in oral biofilm.

The plaque that forms on our teeth is a type of biofilm. It causes tooth decay and periodontal disease – which is why we brush our teeth to remove it. So drinking wine to kill the bacteria in plaque seems like a good idea, right?

Maybe. Chemical research does not easily break down into media snippets. This study looked at chlorhexidine gluconate, Streptococcus mutans, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Streptococcus oralis, Actinomyces oris and Veillonella dispar. I remember some of these from dental school, but I bet in your house they are not common terms.

The results were actually conflicting, but the suggestion that some properties of red wine might be beneficial to oral health was a notion the media could grasp, and eagerly pass on.

Little mention was made of the experimental conditions that would have you holding the wine in your mouth for two minutes every seven hours for seven days. To my way of thinking, that’s not the best way to enjoy a fine glass of wine.

To maintain oral health, Nevills Family Dentistry recommends that you:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Clean between your teeth once a day
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit snacks
  • Visit your dentist regularly

We have recommendations regarding red wine as well. Try having a glass of wine:

  • With a really good meal – steak is my personal favorite
  • At one of the many great wineries in our area
  • A few hours before bedtime, if you think it may help you sleep

And, since red wine can actually stain your teeth, don’t forget to brush before you go to bed!