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Is red wine bad for my teeth?

Hailey asks: “Is drinking a glass of red wine with dinner bad for my teeth?”

Hi, Hailey! Red wine is a delicious addition to a meal, but whether it’s ultimately good or bad for your body is up for debate.

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What we know for sure is that red wine is acidic, so it can wear down your tooth enamel — causing sensitivity and increasing your risk of tooth decay. The tannins in red wine can also trigger headaches and stain your teeth a shade of purple. While a single glass of wine may create a temporary stain that can be brushed or rinsed off, drinking more frequently may lead to a more long-term change in tooth color. Here are some tips for enjoying red wine and still maintaining a healthy smile.

Tips for sipping

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    Brush and floss before drinking. Plaque is really sticky — that’s why it clings to your teeth so tightly! Brushing and flossing before you eat can reduce the chance of wine sticking to plaque on your teeth and harming your smile.
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    Have a glass of water on hand. While you’re enjoying your wine, make sure to include a few sips from a glass of water. This can help you stay hydrated, clean your mouth and reduce the potential harmful effects to your teeth.
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    Munch on cheese and crunchy veggies. These foods can neutralize acids from wine, scrub away stains as you chew and give your body essential nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus.
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    Wait at least 30 minutes to brush after your last sip. Did you know that brushing too soon after acidic food or drinks can further erode your tooth enamel?
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    Visit your dentist for routine cleanings. Cleanings can help remove stains that have built over time. You can also chat with your dentist about how to prevent stained teeth.

Ways to avoid harming your smile

There are some products out there that proponents claim remove stains from your teeth. What you don’t hear is how harmful they can be for your teeth. Be on the lookout for hacks that seem too good to be true, like:

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    Using “wine wipes” to whiten your teeth. Many of these wipes contain hydrogen peroxide, the same chemical used in teeth whitening that can potentially damage your tooth enamel with continuous use.
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    Swiping limes on your teeth to dissolve stains. There’s a myth floating around the internet claiming that rubbing limes on your teeth will help remove stains. Don’t fall for it! Limes are very acidic and can actually increase the potential for tooth erosion and decay.

If you remember to brush and floss regularly and sip in moderation, drinking a glass or two of red wine after a long day of work can be safe for your teeth. Just kick back, relax and enjoy!