To Wine or Not to Wine When It Comes to Your Teeth

Thanks to Joey Nicotra for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Go ahead and pour yourself a glass of chardonnay, merlot or cabernet, and settle in to see how drinking wine can relate to our dental health and wellness.

Let’s check out the good stuff. We all know that red wine offers a host of potential health benefits. Healthy brain function, preventing heart disease, and combating inflammation are just a few. Recently, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that exposure to compounds found in red wine can also help prevent bacteria from sticking to your gums. The compounds the researchers studied are called polyphenols and they can also be found in things like coffee, cranberry juice and other kinds of berries.

Polyphenols act as antioxidants to neutralize harmful free radicals that would otherwise damage your cells and increase your risk of conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Another study has shown that drinking wine might help prevent periodontal disease and tooth loss. Wine with added grapeseed extract was effective in fighting three out of five oral disease causing bacterial strains.

What about the not so good stuff?

Your teeth are made of enamel, which is the hardest tissue in the human body. Even though enamel is hard, it is also very susceptible to erosion from acids. Acids are a primary component in wine, meaning excessive wine drinking can cause tooth erosion leading to tooth decay.

Staining is a secondary, but also unfriendly, aspect that comes from drinking wine. Red wine bears most of the blame for this because red wine contains a higher level of chromogens. Chromogens are also found in coffee, tea, and berries. They produce a pigment that binds to the teeth and can lead to dullness or discoloration of teeth with long-term exposure. While white wine doesn’t contain as much pigment as red wine, it has a much higher acidity level that can break down the enamel faster and leave your teeth even more vulnerable to staining. This is why your teeth might seem especially stained when you drink one glass of white wine followed by a glass of red wine. You’ve essentially primed your teeth for staining by drinking the acidic white wine first and followed it by coating them with red pigment.

Wine’s impact on teeth might sound a little off-putting at first, but wine lovers can unite and continue to celebrate at wine-tastings all around town. No need to worry about your dentists telling you to stop drinking wine altogether. Use good oral hygiene habits, brush and floss twice daily, rinse with water after eating or drinking highly acidic food and drink, eat a well-balanced diet, and see a dentist or periodontist regularly. As long as you follow the dentist’s orders, the benefits of drinking both red and white wine far outweigh the potential dental concerns. For more information on this and for answers to other tooth and gum related questions, schedule an appointment with a periodontist today. Cheers!

Visit drkarlsmith.com to learn more or call 301-638-4867 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Karl Smith at his offices in Waldorf or Alexandria.

Dr. Karl Smith
Dr. Karl Smith has been in dental practice for over thirty-four years. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981 and immediately entered General Practice in the US Air Force Dental Corps. He successfully completed three additional years of advanced education in the specialty of Periodontics with additional training in IV Sedation and Dental Implants in 1992, at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. He won the John Pritchard Prize for outstanding research which included looking for a vaccine against bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Dr. Smith completed a Master of Business Administration degree with a Certificate in Health Services Management while working full time as a Periodontist. In his free time Dr. Smith enjoys traveling nationally and internationally. He is an expert skier and enjoys playing other sports including tennis. Family time with his five children and many grandchildren is also very important to him. Dr. Smith's team describes him as a dentist with superpowers! They know that when he speaks with his patients, he does so with a great deal of care and concern, and because he has a genuine desire to improve their lives and smiles! Dr. Smith is a member of many dental organizations including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology.