Red wine has previously been linked to a range of supposed health benefits, from helping the heart to lowering the risk of diabetes.
Now a new study suggests it contains chemicals that can help in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease.
Researchers found compounds from the drink, known as polyphenols, helped fend off harmful bacteria in the mouth.
But experts warned that the findings do not offer a “green light” to drink more red wine.
Previous studies have suggested that the health benefits of polyphenols are linked to them being antioxidants that protect the body from harmful free radicals.
However, recent studies have indicated that polyphenols might also boost health by working with “good bacteria” in our gut.
For this study, in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists looked into whether wine polyphenols might also be good for oral health.
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 and cause dental plaque, cavities and gum disease.
They found the wine polyphenols and extracts all reduced the bacteria’s ability to stick to the cells, but the polyphenols – caffeic and p-coumaric acids – were more effective.
When combined with the Streptococcus dentisani – believed to be an oral probiotic, which stimulates the growth of good bacteria – the polyphenols were even better at inhibiting the pathogenic bacteria.
The findings, they said, could ultimately lead to new dental treatments.