Could red wine help fight tooth decay?

An ingredient in red wines could help fight tooth decay and gum disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that compounds in wine known as polyphenols helped prevent harmful bacteria from forming.

Previous studies have suggested that the health benefits of polyphenols are linked to them being antioxidants. But recent studies have indicated that they might also boost health by working with so-called good bacteria in our gut.

Researchers compared the effects of two polyphenols from red wine against grape seed and red wine extract supplements on bacteria that stick to teeth and gums. The wine polyphenols and extracts all reduced the bacteria's ability to stick to the cells, researchers found. When combined with an oral probiotic, the polyphenols were even better at inhibiting the pathogenic bacteria.

Experts caution that this research doesn't give anyone a green light to drink more wine. But the study's authors hope the results may one day lead to new dental treatments.

The study's findings appear in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.