A glass of wine a day may keep the doctor away! When consumed in moderation (one to two four-ounce glasses a day), wine offers many health benefits. Scientists have found that drinking wine could improve longevity and lower your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. But there is one health hazard you should be aware of -- wine can stain your teeth!
It's been known for years that red wine can cause tooth discoloration -- but if you're substituting white wine to prevent tooth stains, you may need to rethink your plan. A recent NYU study has shown that even white wine can cause tooth stains -- not to mention tooth erosion! White wine is extremely acidic; as the acid eats away at your tooth enamel, it creates rough spots and grooves that leave your teeth open to stains from other foods or drinks.
Many foods and drinks contain a high level of chromogens, a pigment that stains teeth. Berries, tea, coffee and red wine are just a few examples of foods and drinks that are high in chromogens. While consuming these products alone may not be enough to cause damage, doing so after drinking white wine allows the pigments to penetrate deeper into your teeth, increasing your chances of developing permanent tooth discoloration.
There are ways to slow down the tooth erosion and discoloration processes caused by drinking wine. If you love your vino, we have some tips on how you can protect your teeth:
1. Eat smart. Pair your wine with foods that have low acid content. Nuts, spinach, non-acidic fruits and vegetables and cheese are excellent options, not to mention that they go well with wine!
2. Take breaks between tastings. Alcohol can contribute to dry mouth. Saliva is needed to neutralize the acid and remineralize your tooth enamel. Waiting a couple of hours between drinking allows saliva to form and do its job.
3. Rinse after drinking. The common practice of rolling wine over your tongue puts acid in contact with more teeth. Rinsing your mouth out with water neutralizes acid throughout the mouth -- and will help cleanse your palate between tastings!
4. Chew gum. Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes also activates saliva and helps wash away debris.
5. Hold off on brushing your teeth. Yes, you read that right! The abrasives in toothpaste can further damage enamel that's weakened by acid. Wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing your teeth after drinking wine.
The Vanishing Act
Since everyone's teeth have different reactions to staining agents, even minor consumption of wine may result in tooth discoloration for some. Luckily, many types of tooth stains are treatable. Laser teeth whitening can safely remove years of staining from your teeth in about an hour. For more stubborn or intrinsic stains, veneers may be a better option. If you think you have enamel erosion or already suffer from tooth discoloration, a dental visit may be in order.