Red wine and gum disease

Recent research has shown that having that glass of red wine is not only heart healthy but gum healthy as well!

Periodontal (gum) disease is a progressive infectious disease that affects the gums and bone that support your teeth.

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth.  Some of the properties of all living cells include ingestion and excretion.  We eat to grow and we go to the bathroom.  Bacteria eat the same food we put in our mouth.  As the bacteria grow and colonize it accumulates and combines with protein in our saliva to form a sticky biofilm (plaque).

Dental plaque provides a protective environment for bacteria to continue to eat and grow.  The problem only occurs when they excrete their acidic by-products on our teeth and live next to our gums.  This acid dissolves holes in our teeth resulting in cavities.  It also irritates our gums and causes inflammatory cells (Macrophages) in our body to attack those irritants and deposit free radicals in the area.  When those inflammatory components are released, the blood vessels in our gums dilate (enlarge) and bring more immune cells into the area to fight off the bacterial irritants. That is why we get bleeding around our gums.  Fighting off bacterial irritants in our gums brings on a strong immune system response which inadvertently and irreversibly damages the boney supporting structures of our teeth.  This is what leads to gum disease, bone loss and loose teeth!

Now you know why it is so important to brush and floss the biofilm (plaque) off your teeth so that you don’t get cavities or gum disease…it’s all starting to make sense!

Research has found that certain components of red wine and grape seed, fruits, yellow-green vegetables and green tea have a broad range of compounds called polyphenols.  These polyphenols were found to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-tumour properties and prevent heart disease.

Polyphenols work to mop up the free radicals released during the inflammatory process by the body’s immune system.  They work as anti-oxidants and are directly related to reducing inflammation.

This doesn’t mean that you could forget about brushing your teeth and drink wine all day!  Your liver would have issues and you wouldn’t be very popular at home or at the office.  Wine only has an attenuating effect, it doesn’t completely stop the inflammation.

Surely the best benefit to come out of this research is the homeopathic effect of certain foods (including wine) in reducing inflammation within the body.  Additional research is being done to determine whether grape seed extract is efficacious in reducing gum inflammation by adding it to toothpastes and chewing gums.  Personally, I still prefer a good Cabernet or Shiraz.

The only downside other than the alcohol drying the tissues in your mouth is that red wine stains your teeth!  Ahhhh… but that’s why they invented tooth whitening!  Tooth whitening is effective in removing food related stains that have yellowed (or in this case… reddened) your smile!  That is a separate topic for another time.   Keep Smiling (and Cheers!)

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