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Can grape seed extract or red wine prevent tooth decay?

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Can chewing red grapes or grape seed extract cut tooth cavities? How about red wine sipping? Or better yet, some grape seed extract as a supplement? For anyone searching for another reason to enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner, here's a good one: A new study, "Red Wine and Oenological Extracts Display Antimicrobial Effects in an Oral Bacteria Biofilm Model," published online in the April 29, 2014 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has found that red wine, as well as grape seed extract, could potentially help prevent cavities. They say that their report could lead to the development of natural products that ward off dental diseases with fewer side effects.

M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas and colleagues explain that 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, according to the May 22, 2014 news release, "Not just for the heart, red wine shows promise as cavity fighter."

The effects of toothpaste are limited

They form plaque and produce acid, which starts damaging teeth. Brushing, fluoride in toothpaste and water and other methods can help get rid of bacterial plaques, but the effects are limited. In addition, 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. Some research has suggested that polyphenols, grape seed extract and wine can slow bacterial growth, so Moreno-Arribas' team decided to test them under realistic conditions for the first time.

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

The authors acknowledge funding from the MINECO (AGL2012-04172-C02-01 project), CONSOLIDER INGENIO 2010 and the Comunidad de Madrid. American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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