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03.13.2006

Red Wine and Dentists

File this one under the category of "can't believe everything you read." Those who follow such things will have noticed headlines over the last few days proclaiming "Red Wine Good for Your Teeth" or "Drink Red Wine, Keep Your Teeth Longer." I'm here to tell you that this news isn't as good as it sounds.

First of all, the research findings reported recently about red wine indicate that the polyphenols in red wine inhibit the production of free radicals by various cells in the human body. Apparently someone has taken the leap, because free radicals in high concentration are a factor in gum disease, to suggest that red wine may help prevent periodontal disease.

Such a conclusion is not merited by the research and is a dangerous inference. Not to mention the fact that there's plenty of evidence that red wine is bad for your teeth to begin with. In particular, prolonged exposure to the tartaric acids in red wine can weaken the enamel on teeth and cause gums to recede. Take it from a guy whose dentist has stopped trying to convince him to taste fewer wines at the big tastings, but doesn't hesitate to mention that might be one of the reasons I yelp sometimes during my cleanings as the roots of my teeth become more sensitive with time.

The best thing to do for your teeth. Brush with fluoride. Just make sure to do it after you're done drinking for the evening. Wine tastes awful after toothpaste.

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