A new study by a team of scientists from Madrid’s Research Institute for Food Science and the University of Zürich, found that red wine and grape seed extract are effective at removing the bacteria which cause cavities and tooth loss. The study, led by M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas, was recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Cavities, periodontal disease and tooth loss affect an estimated 60–90% of the world’s population. These dental problems are caused by bacteria which accumulate and create communities called biofilms, which form plaque and produce acid which damages teeth. After previous research suggested that polyphenols, compounds which are present in grapes and wine, could slow the growth of these bacteria, Moreno-Arribas’ team developed an approach to test their effectiveness in combating dental disease-causing bacteria.
First, saliva samples were gathered from five individuals and used to grow cultures of dental disease-causing biofilms. The cultures were then dipped in four different liquids: (1) red wine, (2) a de-alcoholized red wine, (3) de-alcoholized red wine with added grape seed extract, and (4) a solution of water with 12% ethanol (the type of alcohol found in wine).
The researchers found that the red wine (with and without alcohol) and the red wine with grape seed extract were the most effective at eliminating the bacteria. Ethanol is known to be antimicrobial, so the fact that the de-alcoholized wine eliminated the bacteria indicates that other substances in red wine also have antimicrobial properties which are effective against the types of bacteria that cause tooth decay. The researchers are hopeful that their findings will help with the development of new products that fight dental disease.