For many Americans, wine is now the alcoholic drink of choice. According to a 2013 survey, 35 percent of alcohol drinkers choose wine more than any other beverage, compared to 36 percent of people who chose beer as their preferred option. Americans consume more than 320 million cases of wine each year, so it's important to understand more about the benefits and risk these drinks can bring. Learn more about the effects that red and white wine can have on your teeth, and find out if your favorite tipple could also increase the likelihood of a visit to the dentist.
Understanding more about oral biofilms
Your dentist probably often talks about plaque, but he or she may not always describe this substance as a biofilm. Biofilms occur in many places where bacteria stick to the surface of an object in a watery environment. As it forms, a biofilm starts to develop a slimy substance that can stick to almost any surface. You can often find a biofilm around a clogged drain. Another common example is a rock that sits under the surface of the water in a river or stream.
The yellowish plaque on your teeth is another common type of biofilm, made up from bacteria that can cause infections and disease. If you do nothing about this biofilm, the bacteria will eventually lead to tooth erosion, decay and gum disease. Plaque is particularly problematic because the teeth don't naturally shed their surface. As such, the biofilm simply continues to build up as long as you do nothing about it.
Dealing with plaque
If you don't properly clean and disinfect a surface, a biofilm will quickly build up. Your mouth is no exception, and regular flossing, brushing and rinsing are vital. If an infection develops, your dentist will first remove the biofilm and tartar from the teeth and gums. He or she may also recommend a chemical mouthwash.
Biofilms like plaque are highly resistant to antibiotics, and dentists will normally only prescribe this type of medication in serious cases. It's also important to remember that a biofilm can build up on an oral appliance, which is why you need to soak dentures in special cleaning solutions.
Dentists can prescribe antimicrobial agents to deal with oral biofilms, but some patients experience side effect, which can include taste problems and gum discolouration. These products can also cause problems with drug resistance for some people, so researchers are always looking for new solutions.
This is where wine comes in.
How red wine targets biofilms
Several substances (including red wine) contain natural substances that can control biofilms. These products are often suitable for long-term use and have no problematic side effects. Research in 2014 suggests that red wine may have useful anti-biofilm properties.
Phenolic extracts in wine and grapes can help stop the development of certain bacterial strains, including Streptococcus. In one experiment, researchers combined five types of bacteria in one biofilm model and used different wine solutions to try to break down the biofilm. The researchers used alcohol-free red wine, red wine with grape seed extract, water and 12 percent ethanol.
In all cases, the red wine products had the most notable effect on the biofilm culture, even when researchers used the alcohol-free version. The wine with grape seed extract was particularly effective.
That aside, red wine is not a perfect solution. The drink can easily stain your teeth, particularly if you drink a lot in one session, and excess alcohol consumption can also cause other health problems. What's more, if you like white wine, you may not like what your dentist has to tell you.
The effects of white wine on your teeth
In 2009, researchers at Nutrition Research warned consumers about the effects of white wine consumption. The team found that the acidity in white wine could erode enamel, leading to bacterial infections and tooth decay. The age, origin and alcoholic content of the wine are all irrelevant. The worst wines are the most acidic ones, or the beverages that spend the longest time in your mouth.
The researchers indicated that red wines like Rioja or Pinot Noir were kinder to teeth. The team also warned against brushing after a drinking session, as this can worsen the enamel erosion. To counter the problem, the experts suggested that you should drink wine with food, as this can help deal with the erosion that the wine can cause.
Wine is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the United States, but your dentist may suggest you get more info and choose your favorite version carefully. While red wine can help halt the progress of decay, white wine could have the opposite effect.
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