Can a Glass of Red Wine Really Help Fight Gum Disease?

If you are partial to a glass of fermented red grape juice then you will certainly welcome recent research that discovered that some of the compounds in red wine, called polyphenols, could help to ward off the harmful effects of bacteria in the mouth. This could potentially lower your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. It sounds like great news, but experts are urging caution, so you may not want to reach for the corkscrew just yet.

Beneficial properties of red wine

It’s not the first time that red wine has been touted as being a healthy drink. Previous studies have linked it to numerous apparent health benefits, from lowering the risk of diabetes to helping heart health. This is all due to the presence of polyphenols in red wine as they are antioxidants that help to protect the body from harmful free radicals. 

During this research study researchers looked at two polyphenols from red wine extract supplements and grapeseed, comparing them with polyphenols from red wine and their effect on the bacteria that cause dental plaque. They found all were effective, but some polyphenols were better than others, especially when combined with an oral probiotic called Streptococcus dentist and which helps to stimulate the growth of good bacteria. The hope is that in the future this will help to develop new dental treatments.

If you prefer not to drink red wine, then the good news is that you can find polyphenols in lots of other foods and drinks. Good food sources include raspberries and blueberries, as well as kiwis, cherries, black grapes and beans. You can find polyphenols in green and black tea, and in coffee, cider, lemon juice, and orange juice. In general, it’s best not to drink too many citrus-based beverages because these can harm your tooth enamel due to their high acid content.

Dental experts, while agreeing the recent study is interesting, are keen to point out that people shouldn’t view this as a way to begin drinking more. The researchers themselves acknowledge that the study was only conducted using cells that simulated gum tissue and that this type of research is still in its very early stages.

How Conventional Dental Treatment Can Help You Avoid Gum Disease

The good news is that it’s already possible to avoid gum disease using conventional tried and tested dental treatments and particularly by following a good preventative dental care plan. Although many adults are expected to suffer from some form of gum disease during their lifetime, you don’t need to be part of this statistic. Proper dental care is perfectly feasible to maintain strong and healthy gums.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection caused by a buildup of plaque and which has two distinct stages. It’s most often caused by poor oral hygiene because when you fail to brush and floss your teeth regularly or do not do this essential task correctly, levels of plaque bacteria increase.

Plaque is a sticky substance that adheres to your tooth surfaces. It is removed through regular tooth brushing and flossing but will gradually build up in-between times. If you haven’t brushed your teeth for a while, then just pause for a moment and run your tongue over your tooth surfaces. Clean tooth surfaces feel smooth and shiny, but plaque feels slightly sticky and rough. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins that infect and inflame your gums. 

Initially, the infection may be quite mild, and you may not even notice anything is wrong. This stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and one of the most common signs is noticing your gums might bleed a bit whenever you brush or floss. Gingivitis can normally be treated by having your teeth professionally cleaned and your hygienist will work with you to improve your oral hygiene routine at home.

If you stick to their advice and brush and floss your teeth more regularly and thoroughly, your gum health will soon improve. If you fail to get treatment for gingivitis, it will gradually develop into a more serious condition called periodontitis and which can cause tooth loss. 


Periodontitis destroys the gum tissue, the ligaments or stretchy pieces of tissue that hold your teeth in their sockets, and the bony sockets around your teeth. At this stage, treatment is much more complex and is often ongoing to help control the disease because, at this point, it may have become chronic meaning it’s incurable.

How Your Dentist Can Help You

Regular professional dental care is extremely important, and you should never miss your dental checkups or cleanings, and if you haven’t seen a dentist for a while then it’s never too late to start. During your regular dental checks, your dentist will carefully assess your gum health, making very specific measurements that will be checked every time you visit them. These measurements monitor any spaces between your gums and teeth. 

When your gums are healthy, the spaces will be no more than 3 mm deep, but when your gums show any signs of disease, these depths increase, causing what are called periodontal pockets. The problem with these pockets is that they can become too deep to be properly cleaned by a toothbrush and the environment in the pockets is ideal for bacteria to thrive. By regularly monitoring your gum health during your checkups, your family dentist can soon detect any signs of gum disease and will provide the most appropriate treatment. If you already have gum disease and especially periodontitis, your dentist will offer you more advanced dental care or most likely refer you to a periodontist.

Why See a Periodontist?

A periodontist has in-depth knowledge and experience in how to treat advanced gum disease because they have completed several years of additional training after first qualifying as a general dentist. A periodontal dental office will be equipped with advanced technology to treat periodontitis and your periodontist can provide far more specialized treatments that are beyond the scope of a family dentist.

They can help you cope with periodontitis and whenever possible will save teeth affected by this disease. If you have teeth that cannot be saved, your periodontist will work with you to find a suitable solution to replace them. Conventional dental care may not be so much fun as drinking a glass of red wine but it’s far more likely to help you maintain healthy gums and a healthy smile.

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