The Dentist Magazine.

Top dentist warns not to raise a glass to red wine

Published: 23/02/2018

A leading dentist has warned that claims that red wine can help reduce gum disease are misleading.

Richard Coates, of the multi-award winning Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry practice in Sunderland, claims that not only is there little real evidence to support this claim but that it also could actually be detrimental to oral health.

A recent study published in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry by Spanish scientists said that polyphenols – which are found in the grapes used in red wine – may be able to reduce the ability of oral bacteria to cause gum disease.

But Coates, who is an internationally renowned dentist, believes that people should not be enticed into drinking more. He said, “Polyphenols have been shown to reduce the ability of the bacteria which cause gum disease to stick to gum and tooth surfaces and, on the face of it, this would suggest that it may be beneficial in reducing gum disease.

“However at this point there is very little scientific proof that polyphenols could be of use in the improvement in oral health and it is too early to be suggesting this.”

Coates added that people needed to treat the information with caution and not start drinking more red wine in the belief it will cure their gum disease. “Red wine is extremely acidic and an increase in its consumption – while containing polyphenols and their supposed positive action on oral bacteria –  will most definitely produce acid erosion and excessive wear to teeth,” he said, “and people also need to remember that intake of alcohol is strongly linked to an increased risk of oral cancer.

“If polyphenols are of benefit to oral health then they can be readily found in raw fruit and should be consumed in this way.”

Coates suggests that eating fruits rich in polyphenols, such as red grapes and cranberries, can be of benefit to general health, “if consumed in sensible quantities.”

“Red wine, drunk in moderation of course, is an entirely reasonable recreational pursuit, but nobody should start drinking more on the premise that this will cure gum disease, when this could cause much greater health issues if drunk to excess.

“Regular cleaning, we know, is the greatest benefit in the treatment of gum disease.”

Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry is a multi-award winning practice set up by Ken Harris, one of the UK’s leading cosmetic dentists.

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