Chemicals in red
wine can help prevent and treat gum disease,
a study says.
Canadian scientists believe
the polyphenols can block production of free
radical molecules, high
levels of which can damage gum tissue.
The research, by Quebec's Universite
Laval, was presented to the American Association
for Dental Research.
However, dentists warn there
are other risks associated with drinking wine,
and people should not think it was good for
The Canadian study suggests
polyphenols stop free radical production by
subtly changing the make-up of proteins within
the cells that control their release.
Periodontitis destroys gum
tissue and is a leading cause of teeth loss,
affecting millions worldwide.
It is thought to be important to keep free radicals
at low levels to maintain healthy gums, otherwise
they can inflict damage on the tissue.
The bacteria that cause gum
disease are thought to do so by stimulating
immune cells to increase their free radical
Previous studies have suggested
that the polyphenols in red wine may help to
cut inflammation, and possibly the risk of both
cancer and heart disease.
UK experts said polyphenols
might prevent the inflammation getting worse
- but were doubtful about their ability to block
Professor Liz Kay, scientific
adviser to the British Dental Association, said:
"This wouldn't appear to show that red wine
actually prevents periodontal disease.
"The sure way of doing so is
to keep your mouth perfectly clean. That's achieved
by brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste."
Leigh Greenwood, of the British
Dental Health Foundation, said people should
not think that drinking red wine was good for
"It is important to remember
that the acidic content of red wine could cause
other problems, such as dental erosion.
"The best way to guard against
problems such as gum disease is to adopt a good
oral healthcare routine including twice daily
brushing with fluoride toothpaste, daily flossing
and limiting sugary food and drink to mealtimes."