If you are a wine drinker, especially a red wine drinker, you are probably well aware of the situation in which your teeth begin to take on a dark red or purple tinge. Because you also probably notice that the tinge goes away after brushing, you may have brushed it off as no big deal (pun intended). Over time, though, wine can cause significant staining on the teeth.
How Can Red Wine Change Teeth Color?
Red wine itself is dark in color. As with any dark beverage, the darkly pigmented compounds in the drink can attach to the surface of enamel. Like coffee, wine contains tannins, which begin by binding themselves to proteins on the surface of the teeth. Also like coffee, wine is acidic in pH, which softens and weakens the surface of enamel, allowing the tannins to bind to minerals within the enamel itself. This is the mechanism that allows wine to form both temporary and more permanent staining in tooth enamel.
Without any intervention to reverse the process, someone who drinks red wine on a consistent basis will gradually notice a darkening of his or her teeth to a yellowish or grey color. As you might expect, the more red wine one drinks, the more staining of the teeth he or she will experience.
How Can White Wine Change Teeth Color?
While white wine contains much less tannin content than red wine, it does contain some. That is not the main mechanism of color change, though. White wine is typically more acidic in pH than red wine is. This means that it has a stronger ability to weaken and dissolve enamel. Rather than the acidity increasing the staining through tannin binding, white wine risks color change in the teeth through acid erosion.
Natural teeth contain a full-coverage coating of enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. Enamel is naturally white in color and slightly translucent, or “see-through”. When acid erosion occurs, the enamel gradually becomes thinner and more translucent, allowing more “see-through”. The core tooth structure directly underlying enamel is dentin, which is a darker yellow in color. As enamel becomes more translucent, more dentin shows through, and the overall tooth appearance becomes more yellow.
How Can I Enjoy Wine and Maintain a Beautiful Smile?
We want everyone to have the beautiful healthy smile he or she deserves. We also want everyone to enjoy his or her favorite beverages to a certain degree. Follow these important tips to keep your smile both healthy and white.
A Beautifully Healthy Smile
In order to prevent the damage of acid erosion on the teeth, you must support healthy salivary function and control the pH of your mouth. This is especially important if you plan to drink acidic wine for an extended period of time.
- Gently swish and rinse your mouth with plain water periodically while drinking wine. This will work to neutralize the pH inside your mouth.
- Chew sugar-free gum as soon as possible after drinking wine. This stimulates saliva production. Saliva contains valuable minerals that can re-harden your enamel after acidic attacks.
- Enjoy some snacks (preferably protein or fat) while you drink wine. The chewing will stimulate saliva to counteract the effects of the acidic wine. Meats, nuts and cheeses are best for this, so put together a nice charcuterie board!
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride-containing toothpaste at least thirty minutes after drinking wine. Do not brush immediately, as the acidic pH and the motion of the bristles can actually increase the erosion of enamel.
A Beautifully White Smile
The previous tips will help you maintain the health of your enamel, and they should slow down the staining that wine can cause. However, they will not undo staining that has already occurred. In order to do that, you’ll need to consider a few teeth whitening options.
Polishing Away Surface Stains
A very simple step in improving the color of your teeth is to polish away superficial staining from the enamel. There are two ways to accomplish this, and you’ll get the best results if you use them both.
- Professional Teeth Cleanings
- Whitening Toothpastes
True Teeth Whitening
While polishing away superficial stains can improve the color of the teeth, it does not actually change the underlying tooth color. It only removes coatings on the surface. We can change the underlying tooth color through true teeth whitening. You can achieve this in a variety of ways.
- Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products
- Professional Teeth Whitening Products from Your Dentist
More Questions about Wine and Your Teeth?
Call Rockland Dental Specialists and schedule a consultation with our dental experts. We can answer any question you have about wine and its effects on the teeth.