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Science in the News

Is Red Wine Good for Your Teeth?

June 05, 2014

Red wine may help prevent caries, suggest Medical News Today1Huffington Post2 and other media coverage of a laboratory study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.3 The researchers reported that red wine and red wine without alcohol inhibit the growth of certain bacteria found in oral biofilm.

Although media coverage has touted the possible cavity fighting effects of red wine, the study actually found that red wine with or without alcohol had no effect on the growth of S. mutans, the bacteria associated with caries (the biofilm used in the study consisted of five oral pathogens: Streptococcus mutans, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Streptococcus oralis, Actinomyces oris and Veillonella dispar). This finding calls into question the media headlines. In fact, the study showed that chlorhexidine gluconate (0.2%) was more effective than the other substances studied in reducing microbial levels. However, in clinical studies 0.5% to 1.0% chlorhexidine gel or rinse is not very effective in caries prevention according to ADA Evidence-Based Dentistry Guidelines.4  Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow caries prevention claims for chlorhexidine products. These conflicting results, related to chlorhexidine and caries prevention, demonstrate that in vitro lab testing cannot always predict what will happen when products are used clinically.

The researchers also reported that red wine and dealcoholized red wine were effective in limiting growth of F. nucleatum and S. oralis. Could this mean that red wine may be good for periodontal health? Maybe if you hold it in your mouth for two minutes every seven hours for seven days. These were the experimental conditions under which the antimicrobial activity of the red wine solutions was evaluated. Also consider that suppressing growth of one type of bacteria could have a health benefit, or it could promote opportunistic infections. So what the study findings mean for oral health, if anything, is a guessing game.

To maintain oral health the ADA recommends:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-Accepted fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth once a day.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit snacks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly

Fluoride or antiseptic mouthrinses can provide extra help in fighting cavities or gingivitis (respectively), when needed.


1McNamee D. Medical News Today. Could red wine be used to prevent dental cavities? May 27, 2014. (accessed May 27, 2014)

2Chan AL. Red Wine May Have Cavity Fighting Powers. HuffPost Healthy Living. May 24, 2014. (accessed May 24, 2014)

3Munoz-Gonzalez I, Thurnheer T, Bartolome B, Moreno-Arribas MV. Red Wine and Oenological Extracts Display Antimicrobial Effects in an Oral Bacteria Biofilm Model. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62:4731-7.

4Rethman MP, Beltran-Aguilar E, Billings RJ, Burne RA, Clark M, Donly KJ, Hujoel PP, Katz BP, Milgrom P, Sohn W, Stamm JW, Watson G, Wolff M, Wright JT, Zero D, Aravamudhan K, Frantsve-Hawley J, Meyer DM. Nonfluoride caries-preventive agents: Executive summary of evidence-based clinical recommendations. JADA 2011;142(9):1065-71.

About Science in the News

Science in the News is a service by the American Dental Association (ADA) to its members to present current information about science topics in the news. The ADA is a professional association of dentists committed to the public's oral health, ethics, science and professional advancement; leading a unified profession through initiatives in advocacy, education, research and the development of standards. As a science-based organization, the ADA's evaluation of the scientific evidence may change as more information becomes available. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.