The thought of happy hour might make you smile, but wine can cause some serious damage to your pearly whites. Along with coffee and soda, wine is one of the main beverages that cause stains and enamel erosion. While you might immediately think of red wine when you think of damaging alcohols, that Merlot isn't leading to the worst long-term damage — though it may be the source of a mouthful of embarrassing red teeth.
"Red wine is likely to leave dark stains or films on the teeth, staining them quickly," explains Tatiana Herzog, DDS, DICOI, medical adviser for Zwivel and creator of the Dr Herzog Smile Charcoal Toothpaste. "White wine, on the other hand, has a higher acid content. The acid in the wine slowly dissolves the enamel (the white outer layer of the tooth), causing the dentin (the second yellow layer of the tooth) to shine through. This is a more permanent stain caused by the slow erosion of the enamel."
In addition to simple white wine, here are also other types of wines you should be mindful of the next time you're checking out the beverage list at dinner. "Sparkling varieties of wine typically have the highest acid content causing just as much if not more staining," Dr. Herzog explained further. "The same goes for Rosé, which has a high content of acid."
Does this mean you have to give up that evening glass of white wine you've looked forward to all day? Nope! This is especially true if you're willing to enjoy a certain snack along with your Chardonnay.
"Eating cheese while drinking wine can help to neutralize the acidity in wines, protecting the enamel from further erosion," says Dr. Herzog. "Brushing your teeth with a high fluoride toothpaste 30 minutes before drinking can help to combat stains, but do not brush immediately after sipping on wine as this can cause the enamel that has softened from the acid to be brushed away quicker."
Wine and cheese? Don't mind if we do!