Drink up that vino - it stops your teeth falling out!

Canadian researchers have more good news for red wine lovers - it's good for the teeth!

Red wine contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are already believed to reduce cholesterol but are now also thought to prevent gum disease.

Scientists from University Laval in Quebec, Canada, found that polyphenols help to reduce the inflammation that arises from periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a common cause of tooth loss because it affects the bones as well as the gums, loosening teeth.

About14 per cent of people between the ages of 21 and 50, and 65 per cent of those over 50 suffer from the disease which is caused by bacteria that stimulate the immune cells and release highly active oxygen free radicals.

The researchers found that polyphenols are effective in scavenging the free radicals and reducing the inflammatory responses provoked by the bacteria.

In the study they used an extract of cranberry juice to test the effects of polyphenols on the immune response from a range of bacteria commonly found in the mouth.

They found it was a potent inhibitor of inflammation, and suggested that it could form the basis of a new approach to treating gum diseases.

The research showed that the same was true of the polyphenols found in red wine.

At present the team have no data showing that those who drink wine are less prone to periodontitis that those who do not, and earlier hopes that antioxidants could prevent disease have not been confirmed by properly organised trials.

But it does appear from other studies that moderate drinking protects against heart disease and moderate drinkers have consistently been shown to have lower death rates than non-drinkers.

A study in 2003 also suggested that wine decreased the risk of peptic ulcers, while a study of nurses in the U.S. found that moderate drinking by women cut the risk of diabetes by 58 per cent.

The Quebec team say that the antioxidants in many fruits and vegetables and in red wine can counter the free radicals.

The researchers published their findings in the March issue of the Journal of Dental Research.

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