Wine is delicious, refreshing, and boasts a wide range of health benefits – but before you raise your glass to a healthy heart or lungs, consider what that vino will do to your teeth.
Beyond the Stains: How Wine Damages Your Teeth
A fine wine is enough to bring a smile to any wine-lover’s face. Unfortunately, the natural mix of dyes, acids, and tannin in wine often leave little mystery behind the smile’s cause. “Wine mouth,” or the red stain left on teeth after one enjoys a few sips of wine, is the result of intense pigments penetrating a porous surface made even more porous by a highly acidic substance. Wine mouth might create immediate discomfort in social situations, but its long-term effects – and improper methods of damage control – can be even more distressing.
How to Prevent Wine from Staining Teeth
1. Start with clean teeth. Brush your teeth about an hour before you plan to taste wine. Stains love to stick to plaque but have a more difficult time adhering to a smooth surface. Brushing teeth immediately before taking that first sip disrupts the palate and isn’t recommended. Practicing proper oral hygiene 30-60 minutes before wine consumption should have no effect on the wine’s taste. To clean your teeth and decrease sensitivity at the same time, a toothpaste promoting remineralization like the Fluoridex Sensitivity Relief is ideal.
2. Steer clear of white wine. Although red wine is the oft-blamed wine mouth culprit, white wine is no innocent bystander. White wine is more acidic than red wine and as a result, more damaging to your oral health. White wine doesn’t produce visible stains due to its lack of color, but its acidity strips your enamel and increases its porosity. Since the enamel is your primary defense against tooth stains and sensitivity, when you drink white wine before red wine, you’re essentially allowing the pigments in red wine to color on a blank canvas.
3. Remember why wine and cheese go well together. It’s a good thing cheese and wine complement each other so well because calcium-rich cheese is exactly what your teeth need to prevent acid erosion. The waxy consistency of cheese (especially hard cheeses) will help to seal the micropores in your teeth that are exposed to the teeth-staining pigments in red wine.
How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Teeth
1. Resist the urge to reach for that toothbrush or teeth whitening kit. Experts suggest waiting at least an hour before brushing teeth after drinking wine to give your teeth a chance to recover from the acid attack. If you brush too soon, you run the risk of permanently stripping your enamel. Equally tempting is the urge to bleach the teeth for a quick next-day solution. Teeth whitening kits are just as dangerous on newly weakened teeth.
2. Instead, try wine wipes for teeth. Red wine teeth wipes gently remove wine stains from teeth without damaging the enamel or interfering with the wine’s taste. Wine wipes were developed with the help of a sommelier and contain orange blossom, a common ingredient found in most wines. Specifically designed to neutralize the palate while protecting and strengthening enamel, wine wipes are a great way to care for your teeth between glasses.
3. Consult your dentist. In worst case scenarios, the oral health professional in your life knows best. It’s always safer to consult your dentist than to attempt any DIY dental procedures at home. If you’re concerned about deep stains on your teeth, schedule an appointment for a cleaning and ask your dentist to recommend an oral care regimen.