Tuesday, February 12, 2008


An article published online on November 14, 2007 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed the discovery of researchers at the University of Rochester and Cornell University that polyphenols in red grapes may reduce the ability of bacteria to cause tooth decay.

Hyun Koo, DDS, PhD, who is an assistant professor of Dentistry in the Eastman Department of Dentistry and Center for Oral Biology at Rochester University Medical Center, and his associates extracted polyphenols from several varieties of red wine as well as from pomace, which consists of fermented seeds and skins that are discarded after grapes are pressed. The extracts were tested for their ability to reduce the virulence of Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes cavities.

All of the polyphenol extracts tested were found to inhibit glucosyltransferases (GTFs) B and C, bacterial enzymes that produce glucans which attach bacteria to tooth surfaces to form the dental biofilm known as plaque. Polyphenols derived by Cabernet Franc extracts were found to be the most effective by inhibiting 85 percent of these enzymes. Additionally, polyphenols reduced the ability of Streptococcus mutans to secrete acid, which enhances its survival. "Overall, the phenolic extracts disrupt essential virulence traits for a widespread, destructive oral pathogen, but without killing it," commented research team member Olga I. Padilla-Zakour, PhD, of Cornell. "We are excited about the potential application of active compounds from wine grape by-products in the control of biofilms as part of the precise targeting of bacterial disease."

“Most foods contain compounds that are both good and bad for dental health, so the message is not ‘drink more wine to fight bacteria,’” Dr Koo advised. “We hope to isolate the key compounds within the winemaking waste that render bad bacteria harmless, perhaps in the mouth with a new kind of rinse.”



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