Wine Teeth: Avoid Stains and Damage to Your Smile

As we get together with friends and family, we look forward to enjoying good food and drink. However, it's important to be mindful of the potential damage these treats can have on our teeth.

Key takeaways:
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    Dark drinks like red wine or hot chocolate can lead to increased tooth stain.
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    Drinking and rinsing with water regularly will help reduce stain on teeth.
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    Healthy snacks like nuts or cheese help stabilize oral pH levels for healthy teeth and gums.
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    Limit how often you’re snacking throughout the day to reduce food and drink exposure time on teeth.

Red wine, in particular, is known for causing "wine teeth," or enamel that is discolored and stained from frequent consumption of dark liquids. But other foods and snacks can also damage your teeth.

How to reduce stains from wine and other drinks

One of the main causes of "wine teeth" is the high acidity and tannins in red wine. These substances can erode the enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to staining and discoloration. Dark liquids like coffee and tea can also cause stained enamel.

To reduce the risk of wine teeth, try the following tips:

  • Drink through a straw. Using a straw can help reduce the amount of dark liquid that comes into contact with your teeth. This works best with drinks like tea or iced coffee, but may not be as practical when you’re drinking a glass of wine.
  • Rinse your mouth with water afterward. Swishing water around in your mouth can help rinse away any wine particles that come into contact with your teeth but have yet to settle into the porous surface of your enamel.
  • Eat cheese. The calcium in cheese can help neutralize the acid in wine and protect your teeth from erosion.
  • Use a tooth whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste can help remove surface stains and prevent new ones from forming.

Choose healthy snacks

While it's okay to indulge in some treats, it's important to balance them out with healthy snacks. Healthier snacks can help keep your teeth healthy and strong, reducing the risk of tooth decay, enamel erosion, and stain. Some healthy options include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for your teeth and overall health. Plus, the fibrous texture helps wipe away bacteria and acids while you chew them.
  • Cheese. As mentioned above, cheese is high in calcium and can help protect your teeth from erosion. Sharp cheddar cheese can stabilize pH levels inside your mouth between meals, so it’s perfect for a mid-day snack.
  • Nuts. Nuts are a great source of protein and are also high in vitamins and minerals. Choosing nuts that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can also help your body better respond to active gum infections like periodontitis.
  • Whole grains. Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and oatmeal, are rich in fiber and can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. Compared to processed carbs, eating whole grains results in less plaque buildup on teeth.

Tips for protecting your dental work

If you have cosmetic dental restorations, such as veneers or ceramic crowns, it's important to take extra care to protect them. Like your teeth, stains can accumulate around your dental restorations, causing them to appear discolored.

Here are some tips for protecting your cosmetic dental work:

  • Avoid hard or chewy foods. Sticky or firm textures, such as pralines, peanut brittle, or caramel, can damage some types of dental work and may pull out old restorations or dental sealants.
  • Use a mouthguard. If you grind your teeth, a mouthguard can help protect your teeth and dental work from damage caused by excessive bruxism from stress.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Regular dental checkups and cleanings can help ensure that your smile is healthy and gives you a chance to address issues as early as possible.
  • Brush and floss regularly. Good oral hygiene is important for maintaining healthy teeth and protecting your dental work. Plan to brush for two minutes twice daily and floss daily to clean spaces between your teeth.

Good oral hygiene is crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and reducing the risk of tooth stain and decay year round. But especially during the holidays when most of us consume more sweets, processed carbs, and acidic seasonal drinks.

Limit snacking throughout the day

How often you snack on cookies, drink hot chocolate, or indulge in apple cider compounds the sugar and acid exposure time on your teeth. Try to enjoy your treats at mealtime, reducing the number of times you eat throughout the day. Similarly, enjoy your drinks in one set timeframe rather than sip on them over the course of a couple of hours.

Increase your water intake

Water is sugar-free, calorie-free, and doesn’t cause stains on teeth. Make it a point to sip on water between meals and rinse your mouth with water right after you eat or drink anything. Even though rinsing with water does not replace brushing and flossing, it’s helpful for a mid-day refresher to lower bacteria levels in your mouth.

When practical, drink water from the tap instead of commercially bottled water. Tap water from municipal water sources has regulated fluoride levels, which help strengthen tooth enamel. Most bottled waters do not (and some are even slightly acidic).

Sweet sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity isn’t uncommon from time to time, especially when the temperatures drop. But teeth that are sensitive to sweet foods or liquids usually indicate that there is an active cavity somewhere in your mouth. Instead of ignoring sweet sensitivity or hoping that it goes away on its own, be sure to see your dentist. It’s crucial to treat tooth decay early before it expands deeper into your tooth.

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