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May 22, 2014 03:42 PM EDT

Red Wine, Grape Seed Extract May Help Ward off Dental Diseases

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Red wine may stain your teeth but it could help ward off dental diseases, according to a recent study Counsel and Heal reported.

Researchers from the Research Institute for Food Science in Madrid and the University of Zurich found that red wine and grape seed extracts could protect against cavities. The finding could lead to the development of natural products that protect against dental diseases with fewer side effects.

Dental diseases are extremely common throughout the world. Cavities, periodontal disease and tooth loss affect an estimated 60 to 90 percent of the global population.

"The problems start when certain bacteria in the mouth get together and form biofilms, which are communities of bacteria that are difficult to kill. They form plaque and produce acid, which starts damaging teeth," researchers said in a statement. "Brushing, fluoride in toothpaste and water and other methods can help get rid of bacterial plaques, but the effects are limited."

Researchers added that currently used antimicrobial rinses can change the color of the gums and alter taste, so people are less likely to use them for as long as they should.

For the study, researchers grew cultures of bacteria responsible for dental diseases as a biofilm. They dipped the biofilms for a couple of minutes in different liquids, including red wine, red wine without the alcohol, red wine spiked with grape seed extract, and water and 12 percent ethanol for comparison.

They found that red wine with or without alcohol and wine with grape seed extract were the most effective at getting rid of the bacteria.

Previous research has suggested that polyphenols, grape seed extract and wine can slow bacterial growth. This study is the first to test them under realistic conditions.

The findings will be published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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