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Wine can fight mouth bacteria that causes both cavities and certain gum diseases, according to a new study in an American Chemical Society publication.

The polyphenols in the vino, which have been connected to other health effects, also show inhibitory effects on oral pathogenic germs, reports a Spanish team in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

“Our study, based on an in-vitro model of bacterial adherence results, is very useful as an initial approach to go deeper into the mechanisms of action of red wine polyphenols against oral diseases,” the study authors write.

The laboratory models looked at several components of the vintage. The two phenolic extracts were Vitaflavan and Prinvols. Also tested were the metabolites caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid.

Three bacteria’s growth and survival under the direct exposure of the chemicals was tested. The germs tested were Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum.

Also added to the mix was an anaerobe called Streptococcus dentisani, which has been widely considered an oral probiotic.

The human gingival fibroblasts were the epithelial in-vitro model to test the exposures: the antimicrobial factors, the cytotoxicity of the chemicals, the bacterial adherence, and to understand the germs’ survival—or death.

Their conclusion: the two phenols generally prevented the germs from sticking to cells.

But more work needs to be done to understand the mélange within the human mouth, the researchers add.

“Once molecular mechanisms of action become elucidated, in-vivo studies of periodontal and cariogenic disease are recommended, in order to evaluate the potential of polyphenols as preventive therapies in the management of cariogenic and periodontal diseases,” they write.

Like many studies debating the health values of alcohol and coffee, among other popular consumer items, there is likely to be debate over the findings. For instance, negative oral health effects including periodontitis were connected to alcohol dependence in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Periodontology.

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