Lots of dental offices feature beverage bars so their patients can enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea or even a bottle of water and a light snack while they wait for treatment. But a new study by the American Chemical Society (ACS) might have some dentists considering adding a selection of wine to their beverage bar offerings.

It has long been established that sipping red wine in moderation is good for your heart and even your colon. But according to a recent report published in the ACS's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, those same wine polyphenols that help enhance your heart and colon health might also be beneficial to your oral health.


The researchers studied the effect of two specific red wine polyphenols, as well as commercially available grape seed and red wine extracts. They were looking for how the polyphenols and the other two products reacted to the bacteria that stick to teeth and gums and cause dental plaque, cavities and periodontal disease.

Working with cells that model human gum tissue, the researchers found that the two wine polyphenols (called caffeic and p-coumaric acids) were generally better — when isolated than the total wine extracts at cutting back on the bacteria's ability to stick to the cells.

When combined with an oral probiotic called Streptococcus dentisani, the polyphenols did an even better job at fending off the plaque-causing bacteria.

Why do wine polyphenols have health benefits?

Put simply, polyphenols are antioxidants (good). That means they protect the body from harm caused by free radicals (bad). It's a bit more complicated than that, and if you're interested in the more scientific explanation, you can find it here.

Recent research is giving these good guys even more credit. Some scientists assert that polyphenols might also promote health by actively interacting with bacteria in the gut. This actually makes sense because plants and fruits produce polyphenols to ward off infection by harmful bacteria and other pathogens.

In summary, it's not likely dentists will start serving wine to their patients any time soon. But this study certainly can help in educating patients about all the many ways they can use preventive measures to ward off tooth decay and gum disease.