As the holidays approach, many folks indulge in more wine than usual—and that could lead to more stained teeth, according to Uchenna Akosa, DDS, head of Rutgers Health University Dental Associates, the faculty practice of the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. But dentists can give their patients tips for preventing these stains while still enjoying their celebrations.
“When you drink red wine, you’re encountering a triple threat to your teeth’s whiteness: anthocyanins, which are the pigments in grapes that give red wine its rich color; tannins, which help bind the pigment to your teeth; and the acidity found in wine, which etches your enamel, making it more porous and easier for the stain to stick,” Akosa said.
“The strength of your enamel and how prone you are to plaque buildup is key to how much your teeth might stain,” said Akosa, who offered four tips that dentists can share to help their patients prevent wine-stained teeth:
- Brush before, but no immediately after, drinking. Since plaque can make it look like your teeth are stained, you should brush your teeth 30 minutes before drinking, but not right after since toothpaste can cause more etching.
- Don’t drink white wine before red wine. The extra acid in the white wine will exacerbate the staining.
- Drink water while drinking wine. Swishing your mouth with water, which is neither basic nor acidic, after drinking wine helps to reduce the wine’s acidity and stimulates saliva flow, which is critical in fighting harmful bacteria and maintaining the idea pH in your mouth.
- Enjoy cheese with your wine. Chewing food also stimulates saliva. Cheese is ideal to pair with wine as it both stimulates saliva and reduces the acidity from the wine.
- Get regular dental cleanings to keep your enamel strong. Cleanings can help remove plaque, which is an acidic substance that damages your tooth enamel. If not cleaned, it can result in cavities.