Whenever you drink a glass (or two) of red wine, you'll probably notice that your teeth quite quickly start to show signs of staining. With the occasional drink, the problem often goes away almost immediately, but heavier drinkers may start to notice a more substantial discolouration problem. What is it about red wine that means your teeth can so easily change colour? Find out here.
Why teeth stain
There are two types of tooth discolouration. Extrinsic tooth staining occurs when something stains the outer layer (or enamel), while intrinsic tooth staining occurs when the dentin inside the tooth changes colour. Over time, you may actually suffer from both types of staining, as the aging process can change the colour of your dentin, while food and drink can stain the outer layer at the same time.
Red wine only causes extrinsic tooth staining. Extrinsic tooth staining occurs when particles of food, liquid or other substances stain the tiny pores in the tooth's enamel. Temporary discolouration will often rinse away, but you may need dental treatment to deal with more substantial stains.
Red wine properties and tooth staining
Some substances are more likely to stain your teeth than others. Unfortunately, red wine is pretty potent when it comes to staining. There are several reasons for this. The properties that cause the problem are:
The intensity of the colour of red wine. Some red wines are deep red or purple in colour. Other less intensely coloured liquids are less likely to stain.
The wine's acidity. The acidity can start to dissolve the enamel layer of the tooth. In turn, this means that the enamel is more likely to absorb stains because it is no longer hard and smooth.
The tannins in the wine. The tannins found in red wine are astringents. This means that the molecules in the tannins are more likely to stick to a surface. As such, the tannins are more likely to stick to your teeth.
Some of these properties are also a problem in white wine, but the colour of the drink does not itself normally stain your teeth. Nonetheless, large quantities of white wine can make your teeth more susceptible to stains.
Preventing stains from red wine
A small amount of red wine is unlikely to cause concern. When you brush your teeth, the colour will probably disappear, but you shouldn't brush for at least an hour after the drink, or the brushing action may cause further enamel damage.
People who drink a lot of red wine often eat cheese at the same time. Protein in the cheese will form a simple protective barrier that stops the wine from attaching to the pores in the tooth enamel. Alternatively, a glass of water after each glass of wine may help, or you can chew sugar-free gum to get your saliva flowing.
Many people love a glass of red wine, but the resulting teeth stains are rather less desirable. Visit a dental clinic in your area for more advice and information about how to deal with stained teeth.
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