Why wine is good for you, keeping your teeth white and a glossary of wine terms

Why wine is good for you, keeping your teeth white and a glossary of wine terms

Posted: March 24, 2016 | News
by: Dr. Gary Glassman

In March, 2014, I became the joint-owner of Vinedo los Flaneurs, a four hectare vineyard in the Lujan de Cuyo Valley, just outside of the quaint town of Perdriel, in Mendoza, Argentina. It was on this picturesque, fertile land that “The Wine Guys” ~ my three colleagues and I, decided to take on the challenge of growing 1.5 hectares of Chardonnay, and 2.5 hectares of Malbec grape vines. We were fortunate that the planted vineyard we purchased produced a bumper crop later that year, and when the grapes finally matured, we started the vinification process.

During that time, I travelled to my vineyard to inspect and explore the estate, and I was pleased to discover that the vineyard had progressed extremely well during my one year away from the daily operations. Both the Chardonnay and the Malbec had returned a bumper crop, and we were on the verge of bottling the Malbec, under the name of Los Flaneurs and corking the sparkling Chardonnay, named Elisabeth. For wine enthusiasts like myself, this was all very exciting!

Separate from what started as a hobby, I was still the oral and holistic health expert, first, and I liked everything I read about the healthy heart benefits of red wine. Many people - even those who aren’t wine enthusiasts – have become aware over the last five years, of the studies about antioxidants in red wine, called polyphenols, which may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol, is one substance in red wine that has garnered a lot of attention over the past five years.

Resveratrol is now considered to be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevents blood clots.

Recently, however, several studies have emerged (Medical News Today, Huffington Post and the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry) asserting that moderate consumption of red wine may also have oral health benefits. According to these studies, chemicals found in red wine, called proanthocyanidins, contain antioxidant properties that may prevent the bacteria that causes tooth decay from sticking to saliva and teeth. Interestingly, these phytonutrients are also found in foods like grapes, apples and chocolate - good news for non-wine drinkers!

From lecturing around the world, to attending professional and social cocktail parties, I'm often asked about the impact of these studies on oral health and oral hygiene. For years we've been warned that not only does red wine stain our teeth, but because of its high sugar content, it may contribute to tooth decay. Now we're being told that red wine is actually good for our teeth.

While the results of these studies are interesting and exciting, I think the most impactful part of their findings is that they may lead to the development of dental products that contain the cavity fighting properties inherent in red wine. The news is promising, but it certainly does not give anyone license to ignore the risks of stained teeth, tooth decay and eroded enamel. Statistics show that cavities, gum disease and tooth loss affect an estimated 60 to 90% of the global population. It is crucial, therefore, that you continue to take simple precautions to protect your teeth when drinking red wine.

One of the biggest concerns people have with drinking red wine is its teeth staining qualities. An effective way to reduce this risk is to brush your teeth BEFORE drinking the wine! Brushing in advance removes the plaque that builds up on the surface of the teeth. This plaque, if not removed, becomes an ideal surface on which the purple juice can stick and stain. The idea is to avoid brushing immediately after drinking because the acidity from the wine is still fresh in your mouth and on your teeth. Brushing too soon can strip away some of the teeth’s useful enamel.  It’s far better to wait a few minutes, drink a glass or two of water, and then brush.

So Bottoms Up! Take a few simple precautionary steps, and go ahead and enjoy that glass of wine. Here's to your excellent oral health!

Glossary of Terms

  • Hectare
  • Malbec
  • Sparkling Chardonnay
  • Vintification
  • bumper crop
  • Antioxidants
  • Polyphenols
  • Resveratrol
  • Phytonutrients
  • proanthocyanidins