Red wine chemicals could cut cavities

A class of chemicals in red wine grapes may significantly reduce the ability of bacteria to cause cavities, according to a US study published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The findings suggest that specific polyphenols, present in large amounts in fermented seeds and skins cast away after grapes are pressed, interfere with the ability of bacteria to contribute to tooth decay.

Aside from cavities, the wine grape-based chemicals may also hold clues for new ways to lessen the ability of bacteria to cause life-threatening, systemic infections.

‘Most foods contain compounds that are both good and bad for dental health, so the message is not “drink more wine to fight bacteria”,’ said Hyun Koo, assistant professor of dentistry within the Eastman Department of Dentistry and Center for Oral Biology at the Medical Center.

‘We hope to isolate the key compounds within the winemaking waste that render bad bacteria harmless, perhaps in the mouth with a new kind of rinse,’ said Koo, an author of the current study.

The findings are the result of collaboration between the University of Rochester Medical Center and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Cornell University.

With access to a New York winery, they have been looking at how compounds found in wine grapes impact human oral health.

They won a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant two years ago in December 2005 to study the influence of grape polyphenols on oral bacteria, and this publication is an early result.

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