Chemicals in wine have been found to combat mouth bacteria that potentially causes gum disease
Chemicals in the tipple combat mouth bugs that cause the potentially deadly condition, according to the study.
When these get into the bloodstream they can trigger a chain reaction that has been linked to heart disease and cancer.
Earlier this year severe gum disease, known medically as periodontitis, was found to play a role in pancreatic cancer – one of the worst forms.
It was the first evidence the bacteria can spread from the mouth to other parts of the body and start tumours.
Now a Spanish team has found polyphenols in red wine boost oral health by destroying bacteria that stick to gums – leading to periodontitis.
There are however risks associated with drinking wine due to its acidic content
Mouthwashes and chewing gums have been proposed as interesting matrices for the application of dietary polyphenols in the management of oral health
There are risks associated with drinking wine – and dentists warn it is not good for teeth because of its acidic content.
But the researchers said it’s known sipping wine is good for the bowel and heart – possibly because of the diverse antioxidants that are abundant in the beverage.
The latest findings, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggest they could also stop teeth falling out.
This can also increase the risk of dementia by reducing chewing – a process that boosts blood flow to the brain.
Lab experiments showed two particular polyphenols in red wine – caffeic and p-coumaric acids – dramatically reduced bacteria that cause dental plaque, cavities and periodontal disease.
Two particular polyphenols in red wine dramatically reduce bacteria that cause dental plaque
They outperformed commercially available grape seed and red wine extracts at cutting back on their ability to stick to lab-grown cells that modeled gum tissue.
And combining them with oral probiotic Streptococcus dentisani produced even better results at fending off the disease-causing bugs.
Food scientist Dr Victoria Moreno-Arribas explained: “Oral epithelial cells normally constitute a physical barrier that prevents infections.
“But bacterial adhesion to host tissues constitutes a first key step in the infectious process.”
She said the combination of probiotics and polyphenols could be more than feasible in preventing gum disease.
Polyphenols have health benefits by protecting the body from harm caused by free radicals
Dr Moreno-Arribas, of the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, said: “In a further step delivery methods for these compounds to treat oral disorders should be optimised.
“Mouthwashes and chewing gums have been proposed as interesting matrices for the application of dietary polyphenols in the management of oral health.”
The researchers also managed to shed light on the mechanism that makes red wine good for gums.
They showed molecules that boost metabolism formed when digestion of the polyphenols begins in the mouth – and this might be responsible for some of the healthy effects.
Traditionally some benefits of polyphenols have been attributed to the fact they protect the body from harm caused by free radicals.
But recent research indicates they promote health by actively interacting with bacteria in the gut.
That makes sense because plants and fruits produce polyphenols to ward off infection by harmful bacteria and other pathogens.
That’s what inspired Dr Moreno-Arribas and colleagues to find out if red wine would also protect teeth and gums – and how this could work on a molecular level.
She said the knowledge of the effects of polyphenols in relation to the prevention of dental diseases is still at an early stage.
The use of antiseptics or antibiotics in prevention and treatment can lead to side effects so there’s a need to develop new anti-microbial strategies.
Dr Moreno-Arribas said: “We tested concentrations in the range normally found in wine – 50 and 10 ??g/ml.
“Working with cells that model gum tissue we found the two wine polyphenols – caffeic and p-coumaric acids – were generally better than the total wine extracts at cutting back on the bacteria’s ability to stick to the cells.
“When combined with Streptococcus dentisani the polyphenols were even better at fending off the pathogenic bacteria.”
Periodontitis destroys gum tissue and is a leading cause of teeth loss, affecting millions worldwide.
But it’s only in recent years the common condition has been linked with the world’s biggest killers.
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The NHS says most adults in the UK have gum disease to some degree. It’s much less common in children.
Signs are bleeding gums when you brush your teeth – and bad breath.
This early stage is known as gingivitis. Periodontitis can develop if left untreated.
This affects more tissues that support teeth and hold them in place.
If periodontitis isn’t treated the bone in your jaw may be damaged and small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth.
Your teeth can become loose and may eventually fall out.