If you’re looking to take the edge off by having a drink at the end of a long day, a glass of red wine isn’t a bad option. The active compounds and antioxidants in red wine have been shown to increase heart health, improve cholesterol and fight diabetes and obesity. So out of all the alcoholic beverages you can look to after a long day — in moderation of course — you can do a lot worse than a glass of red wine.
With all those benefits, red wine has a mixed reputation in the dental world. Certain components in red wine have been shown to stain teeth, but recent research also suggests that chemicals in the the drink can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Below, we’ll explore the positive and negative effects of red wine on teeth, so you can make an educated decision on what is best for your teeth.
The Dentist Weighs In
The Negative: Red Wine Can Cause Stains
Multiple components in red wine have been shown to stain teeth and wear down enamel. In conjunction with each other, this cocktail of acids, chromogens and tannins can leave your teeth with stains if you don’t work to protect them. So what are these compounds and what do they do to your teeth?
Acids soften and wear down tooth enamel which allows stains to set in easier.
Chromogens are compounds with strong colors and pigments that stick to your teeth’s enamel
Tannins are plant-based compounds that make it much easier for stains to stick to your teeth as well.
Red wine contains all three of these compounds, which greatly improves the risk of teeth stains if your teeth aren’t protected through regular habits and protective products.
To avoid stains that can come from red wine, dental professionals recommend brushing and flossing teeth before drinking a glass, and rinsing your mouth out afterward to keep any lingering wine out of your mouth.
Eating food as you drink can also serve as a barrier against acids in red wine, as it can stimulate saliva production and wipe away stains. Drinking through straws and using tooth wipes specially designed for red wine can help as well.
The Positive: Red Wine Can Prevent Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
If you make sure to protect your teeth as best you can from red wine stains, the beverage has recently been linked to the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, red wine contains micronutrients called polyphenols that reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease.
These findings present new research on the potential benefits of red wine to oral health, but researchers involved in the study note that more research needs to be conducted on the subject.
So what does this mean about the effects of red wine on oral health? The fact that polyphenols can help to prevent cavities and gum disease is a welcoming sign that is worthy of more study. As long as red wine is consumed in moderation and you take measures to clean your teeth before and after drinking it, there’s no reason to steer clear of it altogether.
The Final Word
As with any food or drink that has been proven to improve tooth health, consuming these foods are not a substitute for proper oral care, as you should always visit a dental professional regularly to ensure that your teeth are being taken care of in the best way possible.