Red wine has been linked to a range of so-called health benefits, from helping the heart to reducing the risk of diabetes.
Now a new study suggests it contains chemicals that can help fight tooth decay and gum disease.
The researchers found that the compounds in the drinks (called polyphenols) help ward off harmful bacteria in the mouth.
But experts warn that the findings do not provide a “green light” for drinking more red wine.
Moderate drinking was associated with lower risk of diabetes.
The health benefits of red wine ‘excessive’
Previous studies have shown that the health benefits of polyphenols are linked to antioxidants that protect the body from harmful free radicals.
However, recent studies have shown that polyphenols may also promote health by working with the “good bacteria” in our gut.
For the study, in the journal of agricultural and food chemistry, scientists looked at whether wine polyphenols were beneficial for oral health.
The researchers compared the two kinds of polyphenols in red wine and grape seed and red wine extract supplements for adhesion and led to a plaque on teeth and gums, the influence of the cavities and gum disease bacteria.
They found that both polyphenols and extracts reduced the ability of bacteria to adhere to cells, but polyphenol-caffeic acid was more effective in the presence of coumaric acid.
When combined with the bacterium streptococcus, which is believed to be oral probiotics, to stimulate the growth of good bacteria, polyphenols are even better in inhibiting pathogens.
They say the findings could eventually lead to new dental treatments.
Moderate drinking ‘
The report’s authors acknowledge that their research is limited to the fact that it is done by cells that mimic gingival tissue in the human body.
They say further research is needed to determine more about what causes the bacteria to be suppressed.
They say that the metabolites formed in the mouth by polyphenols may also be responsible for some of the effects of the study.
Professor damien walmsley, scientific adviser to the British dental association, said the study was “interesting” but did not mean people should start drinking more water.
“In fact, the acidity of wine means consuming a lot of these drinks can damage the enamel of your teeth,” he said.
“Therefore, it is best to drink wine and eat in moderation to reduce the risk of tooth erosion until the benefits of this study are clinically shown.”
Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at Glasgow university, said the study was “very interesting” but still “very preliminary”.
“However, the findings do not support drinking more red wine to stop the infection,” he said.
“There is no evidence that drinking wine itself is good for your overall health – on the contrary, a growing body of evidence suggests that other sources of drink less, existing alcohol or alcoholic beverages is less, the smaller range of diseases, the lower the risk of mortality risk”.