Red wine’s abundant and structurally diverse polyphenols, which are antioxidants, have previously been linked to improving colon and heart health.
The new findings, published Wednesday in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggest that these antioxidants might also aid oral health.
“Several benefits have been described for red wine polyphenols and probiotic strains in the promotion of colonic metabolism and health,” the report states. “On the contrary, knowledge about their role in the management of oral health is still scarce.”
To investigate how these antioxidants impact oral health, Adelaida Esteban-Fernandez, a researcher at the Institute of Food Science Research in Spain, and her team examined the effects of two red wine polyphenols and commercially available red wine and grape seed extracts.
They focused on how these compounds protect against bacteria that cause dental plaque, cavities and periodontal disease – a serious infection that damages the gums and can destroy the jawbone.
Using cells that model gum tissue, the team found the two isolated wine polyphenols – p-coumaric and caffeic acids – were generally better than the total wine extracts at reducing bacteria’s ability to stick to the cells. When combined with Streptococcus dentisani, believed to be an oral probiotic, the polyphenols were even more adept at resisting the pathogenic bacteria.
The researchers also demonstrated metabolites that form as digestion of polyphenols begins in the mouth might produce some of these effects.
Esteban-Fernandez and her team did not study white wine, which typically has much lower quantities of polyphenols because grape skins – where the antioxidants are located – are usually removed before fermentation.
The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, and the Community of Madrid.