Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

What Does Wine Do to Teeth?

Red wine and concord grape juice have been long known to do two things:

#1 – make an indelible stain on clothes or carpeting; and

#2 – prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol that leads to the formation of plaque in artery walls.

As to #2, if you were looking for an excuse to have that morning glass of grape juice or a  nightly glass of red wine perhaps you have one now.  After all, if a mere beverage can help lower the risk of developing blood clots that lead to heart attacks, you might as well go for it, right?  One important thing to remember is that having stained teeth does not mean that your teeth are unhealthy, and if you have stained teeth there are solutions such as a visit to a top dentist and an in office tooth whitening procedure.

Grapes Are Good

Grapes, just like berries, cocoa and tea, are loaded with various types of flavonoids, a power antioxidant.  In fact, persons who consume purple/blue fruits and vegetables on a regular basis have a lowered risk of metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome is a condition in which a group of risk factors for heart disease, including stroke, and Type 2 diabetes occur together.

The Antioxidant Resveratrol Has Health Benefits

For those persons that are teetotalers, grape juice has the same benefits as wine, if not more.  The health benefits of drinking a glass of grape juice were proven after a study in 1999 at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, when 15 patients who already showed signs of cardiovascular disease drank a tall glass of grape juice daily for two weeks.  At the end of the study, their LDL (or bad cholesterol) level had lowered significantly.

Grape juice actually prevails over red wine because it also lowers the risk of developing blood clots.  Wine only prevents the blood from clotting if consumed at the level of one who is legally drunk.  With grape juice, you can drink as much as you want.

Wine Can Stain Teeth

Your dentist will know if you begin drinking these two fruity beverages on a regular basis.  As early as 1907, W.D. Miller, a pioneering dentist and scientist, first suggested that drinking wine might lead to tooth erosion.  There have been subsequent studies that concurred that alcohol in general, especially wine, can dissolve tooth enamel. That’s not good, because your tooth’s enamel is the thin outer covering which protects the visible part of the tooth outside of the gums.  Even though the enamel of the tooth is the hardest tissue in the human body, wine’s acidity will slowly erode the enamel’s protective coverage.  Enamel is composed mainly of a basic salt called hydroxyapatite, and enamel begins to dissolve when acidity lowers the pH in your mouth below a critical point, somewhere between 5 and 5.7.  Additionally, wine’s malic, tartaric, lactic, succinic and citric acids usually contribute to a pH of between 2.9 and 3.5.

A wine connoisseur will encounter more tooth enamel erosion than the person who merely downs a quick glass of wine.  Wine tasters who like to swirl and swish, or who savor the glass of wine slowly, will find heightened enamel erosion, because the more aggressively you rinse it around your teeth, or the longer you keep wine in your mouth, the greater your exposure to acid.  Even a single occasion of drinking wine could measurably affect tooth enamel for these folks since pH levels remain significantly decreased for several minutes after a wine taster savors and/or spits, your tooth enamel is translucent (meaning you can see light through it), the main part of the tooth (dentin) that is responsible for your tooth color will cease to be bright white, and, instead will become off-white, gray or even yellow.

How to Keep Teeth Bright

You can’t fault red wine, or even grape juice, because if you are a coffee drinker, consume acidic carbonated soft drinks, or you are a smoker, your teeth also bear stains from these habits as well.  Regular visits to the dentist or hygienist, will help keep the big stains and enamel erosion at bay and keep your teeth healthy.  In between visits to the dental office, consider using a fluoride varnish, and invest in a toothpaste that is low-abrasive and contains remineralizing agents.   This type of toothpaste will not scour teeth and further erode your tooth’s enamel.  But, don’t brush teeth for at least an hour after drinking wine, and, absolutely don’t go to bed with wine-coated teeth.

There are always options available to enjoy that glass of red wine or grape juice as well as preserve the integrity of your pearly whites.  Consider a consultation with a cosmetic dentist to discuss any options for good oral health.

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