Drinking red wine helps in protecting tooth decay

London: Want to keep tooth decay at bay? Down a goblet of red wine daily, says a new study. Red wine, when drunk in moderation, is already thought to have a protective effect against various heart diseases and some forms of cancer. But scientists have also been probing whether it could help to prevent dental decay.

Now, researchers in Italy have found that red wine is good for teeth as it contains chemicals that could ward off decay by stopping harmful bacteria from sticking, the `Daily Mail` reported.

The most damaging bacteria, called streptococcus mutans, live in the mouth and feed on sugar in the diet. Once it sticks to enamel, the organism triggers a process called
demineralisation, where acid starts to punch holes in teeth. In their study, the researchers at Pavia University exposed the bacteria to a small amount of red wine that had
all its alcohol content removed.

This was so they could clarify if it was the alcohol, or something else in wine, that had a beneficial effect. The results showed harmful organisms were unable to cling to teeth
or saliva once exposed to red wine.

The researchers said the active ingredient was a group of compounds called proanthocyanidins, chemicals rich in antioxidants that are found mainly in grape skins.

However, they are investigating whether the compounds can be extracted and used as a form of treatment on their own, as some wines contain sugars and acids which can also be corrosive to teeth.

The study is to be published in the upcoming edition of the `Food Chemistry` journal.