Wine Lover? Some Oral Health Tips

Posted on Oct 29, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you’re a wine lover, you may not be surprised that the United States ranks as the leading consumer of wine. Wine has become a regular accompaniment to meals and is often present in many social gatherings. In the past decade, the once-dominant beverage in France has fallen in consumption by 17% while the States have seen a 20% increase.

Many consumers believe that wine is a healthy beverage. In moderation (like anything), drinking wine is said to offer health benefits – everything from helping to lower blood pressure and reducing the risk for health problems such as diabetes and stroke. When it comes to your smile, however, wine isn’t beneficial – at all.

Red wine is a known culprit when it comes to staining teeth. However, white wine has a tint and can discolor teeth as well.

Yet, a deeper problem exists for your smile when it comes to wine. Wine is highly acidic, much more than most people realize. When this acid mixes with the acids in the mouth that aid in digestion, the level of acid can erode tooth enamel. When this protective shell on teeth is compromised, your risk for cavities increases.

So, just how high can wine boost acidity in the mouth? Studies show that tooth enamel can soften in about ten minutes from drinking wine. For those who sip a glass of wine before dinner or several glasses over the course of an evening with friends, the damage that can occur is nothing to ignore.

To minimize damaging your pearly whites, alternate sips of wine with drinks of water. When drinking the water, let it wash over your teeth before you swallow to dilute acid levels. You should also conclude your wine consumption by swishing with water.  Also, eat cheese while you enjoy your wine. Cheese is high in alkalinity, which helps neutralize wine’s acidity. At home, consider using a prescription level fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse for your oral hygiene. These products strengthen tooth enamel.

Do NOT brush your teeth after wine consumption! Because tooth enamel is already soft from high acid levels, brushing will actually cause damage due to the abrasiveness of tooth paste and toothbrush bristles. It is recommended that you wait 30 minutes before brushing to give acid levels in the mouth time to lower. Enamel, once worn away, is gone for good. This leaves teeth weak and vulnerable.

By taking simple steps to protect your teeth, you can greatly lower your risk for problems and save greatly in time and expense. The good news is that you can protect your oral health and still enjoy a good glass of wine!

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