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Wine Bottles

They may make it way up in Napa, but we here down in Beverly Hills have a well-developed taste for wine.

And why not?

Wine is delicious — or, at least, the stuff that comes out of California is. It’s good for social functions or with meals, for picnics or book club or to just relax on a beautiful Los Angeles afternoon.

It’s also good for you, according to any number of studies. Red wine in particular — and in moderate amounts — has been shown to carry all sorts of benefits for cardiovascular health. The antioxidants in the grapes strengthen the immune system and keep arteries soft and flowing like they should.

They may also make your teeth happy.

A study published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that  in appropriate quantities, red wine was effective in preventing the growth of harmful bacterial films that coat teeth and lead to cavities and other dental health issues.

The researchers who performed the experiments tested various known sources of much-touted antioxidants and determined that red wine and grape seed extract performed the best at controlling the growth of streptococci or lactobacilli bacteria strains, which let off an acid byproduct as they feed and reproduce that erodes the enamel coating on teeth.

The resulting holes becomes breeding grounds for other bacteria that bore into the spongy tissue underneath the enamel, forming cavities.

What’s important to keep in mind is that the mouth is one of the strangest organs in the body. Moist and warm and exposed to the air and whatever else you choose to allow into it, it is the place where the inside and outside worlds meet, complete with permanent, non-shedding structures to grow on and tight cracks to nestle between.

In short, your mouth is a perfect environment for all sorts of microorganisms to thrive in. Some of those microorganisms are good, or at the very least not bad, and some are profoundly harmful, like the devious little buggers that orchestrate periodontal disease.

But eliminating all of them is not an option, and could just make things worse, besides. The trick is to maintain the right balance, and that, apparently, is what red wine, or something contained within it, accomplishes.

The researchers are not exactly clear on what that may be, but white wine, we should mention, doesn’t have it. Rather, if it does, it also has too much sugar to matter.

Interestingly enough, red wine was found to be effective whether or not it had alcohol, and grape seed extract was even more so, which indicates that the results had less to do with fermentation than with something in the grape itself.

Isolating that substance or combination of substances could lead to meaningful improvements to natural dental treatments and medicine, but until the scientists figure all that out, feel free to have a glass of red, on your local Beverly Hills dentist.