Drinking wine may protect teeth by destroying bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease, new research suggests.

Despite many dentists warning booze's acidic content can damage teeth, a study released today suggests antioxidants in wine significantly prevent bacteria that cause plaque, cavities and periodontal disease from sticking to gums.

When these bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can trigger a chain reaction that has been linked to heart disease and cancer, the Daily Mail reports.

The latest discovery could lead to the development of "wine-inspired" toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain such antioxidants, according to the Spanish researchers.

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Gum disease affects about three in every four adults in the UK. Symptoms include sore, bleeding gums during brushing.

Antioxidants in red wine boost dental health

Study author Dr Victoria Moreno-Arribas, from the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, said: "Oral cells normally constitute a physical barrier that prevents infections.

"But bacterial adhesion to host tissues constitutes a key step in the infectious process."

Results further suggest antioxidants in red wine are more effective than commercially available grape-seed and red-wine extracts at preventing plaque - causing bacteria from sticking to lab-grown cells in modelled gum tissue.

When digested in the mouth, these antioxidants are thought to produce molecules that may benefit oral health.

Combining the antioxidants with the oral probiotic Streptococcus dentisani further boosts dental health.

"Mouthwashes and chewing gums have been proposed"

Speaking of how the experiment was carried out, Dr Moreno-Arribas added: 'We tested concentrations in the range normally found in wine - 50 and 10 µg/ml.

"Working with cells that model gum tissue we found the two wine polyphenols - caffeic and p-coumaric acids - were generally better than the total wine extracts at cutting back on the bacteria's ability to stick to the cells.

"Delivery methods for these compounds to treat oral disorders should be optimised.

"Mouthwashes and chewing gums have been proposed as interesting matrices for the application of dietary polyphenols in the management of oral health."

The findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Two-and-a-half glasses of wine a day "cleans" the brain

This comes after research released earlier this month suggested a couple of glasses of wine a day not only clears the mind but cleans it, too.

Mice exposed to the equivalent of about two-and-a-half glasses a day are more efficient at removing waste products from the brain that are associated with dementia, a study found today.

The animals, who were given a compound of alcohol known as ethanol, also perform as well as ''teetotal'' rodents on cognitive and motor tests, the research adds.

Lead author Dr Maiken Nedergaard, from the University of Rochester, said: ''Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system.

"However, in this study we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to [the] brain, namely it improves the brain's ability to remove waste."

The researchers did not mention whether red or white wine was most effective at ''cleaning'' the brain but say other types of alcohol, including beer, would likely have the same impact.