Alcohol bad for teeth

5 myths about alcohol consumption and your oral health

Get the facts! Learn the truth about these alcohol and oral health misconceptions.

Myth #1: Alcoholic drinks help you stay hydrated.

Fact: Drinks high in alcohol, like spirits, can dry out your mouth. Not only does this problem cause bad breath, it also boosts your chance of cavities. Saliva keeps teeth moist and helps to remove plaque and bacteria from the tooth’s surface.

Myth #2: Drinking beer won’t stain your teeth.

Fact: Beer is acidic, which means that teeth are more likely to be stained by the dark barley and malts found in darker beers. The color in beverages comes from chromogens,” explains Dr. John Grbic, director of oral biology and clinical research in dentistry at Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine. Chromogens attach to tooth enamel that’s been compromised by the acid in alcohol, and stain teeth.

Myth #3: Adding citrus (like orange juice or a spritz of lime) to an alcoholic beverage makes it healthier for your teeth.

Fact: The American Dental Association notes that even a squeeze of lemon provides enough acid to eat away at tooth enamel.

Myth #4: Alcohol consumption and oral health are unrelated.

Fact: Alcohol abuse is the second most common risk factor for oral cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, individuals who suffer from alcohol dependency tend to have higher plaque levels on their teeth and are three times as likely to suffer from permanent tooth loss.

Myth #5: Frequent alcohol consumption cleanses your teeth and helps you avoid cavities.

Fact: The risk of developing cavities is higher for those who drink heavily. These individuals may experience dry mouth at night and neglect both personal and professional oral health care. One study suggests that they may consume higher levels of refined carbohydrates to satisfy their “munchies.” Heavy drinking can also lead to frequent vomiting, and the vomit is extremely acidic, damaging teeth.

Related reading:

  • Stop acid erosion
  • Got dry mouth? What you should know

Published: January 2017

The oral health information on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a nice glass of wine or cocktail every now and then. But before you start sipping the same drink daily, you might want to know that booze can have a negative effect on your teeth. And depending on which type you regularly choose, the results can be vastly different, according to Dr. Joseph Banker, founder of Creative Dental Care.

White Wine

Think white wine is safer than red? We hate to break it to you, you still could be putting your teeth at risk with that nightly glass of chardonnay. “When you sip white wine over long periods of time, it doesn’t give your mouth a chance to rebalance its pH,” says Dr. Banker. “The acidity softens enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to eroding or picking up stains from other foods or drinks.”

Mixed Drinks and Cocktails

Vodka cranberry. Rum and cola. Margaritas. Having your favorite cocktail might help you relax after a long day, but according Dr. Banker, ingesting these high-sugar drinks regularly can be terrible for your teeth.

“The more acidic your drink is — for example, whiskey with cola — the quicker it can damage your teeth,” he warns. “And if you’re sipping these drinks every weekend, you’re spending a significant amount of time with sugary, acidic liquid in your mouth.” Imagine sucking on hard candy for several hours a day — that’s how bad this is for your teeth.

Red Wine

Let’s just rip the Band-aid off: Red wine is rough on your teeth. “On top of being acidic, it also has chromogens — dark pigments,” explains Dr. Banker. “Plus, it contains tannins, an astringent from the peel of the grape that has a binding effect.” If you happen to love darker red wine, just be aware that the more pigmented it is, the more likely your teeth will get stained.


Skipping the mixers won’t help your cause: High alcohol drinks (think vodka, rum, and whiskey) are still rough on your enamel. Plus, they decrease saliva production, making it more difficult for your mouth to naturally wash away bacteria and acids. And besides being bad for your teeth, this can also lead to bad breath — something no one wants to deal with during a night out.


Beer lovers, we’ve got good news and bad news. The bad: Beer is acidic and can therefore be harmful when sipped over a long period of time, just like the rest of these picks. Plus, darker beers can stain your teeth. Here’s the good news: Of all the types of alcohol, Dr. Banker said a light, low-carb beer is probably your teeth’s best bet, as it has the highest water content and lowest acidity.

How You Can Prevent Damage

If all of this info is bumming you out, take solace in the fact that there are a few good ways to minimize the damage alcohol can have on your teeth:

Before Drinking
According to Dr. Banker, if you have had a recent dental cleaning and therefore have smoother teeth with less buildup, stains have a harder time settling into your teeth. Be sure to get regular cleanings and, of course, brush and floss regularly.

While Consuming Alcohol
Sip water at the same time, recommends Dr. Banker. Swish it around on occasion to wash away the alcohol. Chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can also help minimize damage, as it stimulates salvia production.

The Next Day
If you find yourself with purple teeth the morning after a night out, be sure to brush and floss properly, then use an at-home whitening treatment to get rid of surface stains.

Sam Escobar Contributor Sam’s enthusiasm for makeup is only rivaled by their love of all things relating to cats.

That’s right, your dreams have come true.. It turns out that drinking certain kinds of beer (in moderation) have actually been shown to be good for your teeth! However, it really depends on the type of beer that you are drinking.

Similar to other teeth staining beverages such as coffee and red wine, darker beers (stouts and porters mostly) also have the ability to stain and eat away at your teeth because of their coloring and higher levels of acidity. However, the lighter colored beers that consist of un-roasted barley and hops, such as pilsner’s and IPA’s, are loaded with calcium and silicon which can help to strengthen your teeth, bones, hair and nails. Besides the health benefits of calcium and silicon, beer that is heavy in hops such as the IPA’s and pilsners, also contain tannins which serve as an antioxidant and has anti-bacterial benefits as well!

So the next time you decide to have a beer, make sure it’s in the pale ale or pilsner family and stay away from darker beers such as stouts, porter’s and Scottish ales. Your teeth, bones, hair, nails and wallet will thank you for it later on..

Ageless Smile Blog

St. Patrick’s Day… we all know how to celebrate this patron saint’s holiday and the Irish heritage – lots of alcohol, and maybe even a smoke or two. You know what alcohol and cigarettes do to your body, but are you aware how alcohol and cigarettes affect your teeth?

You may be surprised.

Read on to get the scoop and keep your mouth safe through the holiday celebrations. You won’t regret these tips.


We always get a kick out of the outfits people wear to celebrate St. Patty’s day – green shirts, clover shaped glasses, outrageous hats, maybe even a kilt. But the one thing that nobody forgets to wear on St. Patrick’s Day is his or her drinking shoes.

We want to make sure that you keep your whole body safe on St. Patrick’s Day, but something that often gets overlooked when going out for a day and/or night of drinking alcohol is the effect that it has on your teeth. Since we are dentists, we want to make sure you don’t overlook it this year!

First of all… No amount of brushing will protect your teeth from harm if you do not drink in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause cavities, gum deterioration, and tooth loss. In fact, dentists can oftentimes detect early signs of alcoholism based on the state and condition of the gums and teeth.

There is a one-two punch that occurs when drinking alcohol that causes many people problems: dehydration, and sugar-packed mixed drinks.

Hard alcohol is often served with sugary mixers like sodas, juices, and energy drinks. This sugar causes tooth decay. Also, alcohol dehydrates you, and part of dehydration means that the mouth produces less saliva, which results in dry mouth. Saliva helps wash away and dissolve all the bacteria in your mouth from the sugary mixers in your drinks, so don’t underestimate the significance of this.

Studies have shown that many people, particularly young people, go to bed without brushing their teeth after a night on the town. That means all that sugar remains on the teeth all night long and can really do a number, so if you’re going to drink, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards before you go to bed.

Important tip: don’t brush immediately after you finish your last drink because all the sugar and alcohol weakens your enamel. You should wait at least 30 minutes to let your enamel re-mineralize after being exposed to all that sugar and acid.

Drinking lots of water simultaneously while you are drinking alcohol will help to keep you from becoming intoxicated too early in the night, and it will also help wash away some of the sugars and acids that are being consumed. Similarly, the day after consuming alcohol, continue drinking lots of water to help with a rehydration and to continue protecting teeth!

Additionally, alcohol prolongs the healing process. If you are injured, or are recovering from a surgery, full recuperation will take longer for those who regularly consume alcohol as opposed to those who do not.


On to cigarettes… Bad breath and yellow teeth are only the superficial side effects of smoking. There are other more costly, unpleasant, and downright dangerous side effects.

Because you inhale the smoke through your mouth, your mouth is nicotine central and that is also where the addictive and unhealthy things in a cigarette gain access to the rest of your body.

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a big problem for smokers. It can become very serious and lead to even more dangerous conditions as well. Smoking irritates gum tissue and reduces blood flow to the gums which causes damage and can result in gums pulling away from the base of the teeth. Smoking may account for around 75% of periodontal disease in adults. If you smoke, you are at seven times greater risk than those who don’t. Secondhand smoke can also put you at a higher risk of periodontal disease.

One of the first and most noticeable signs is gum recession. It can expose the roots of the teeth, which leaves them vulnerable to tooth decay and infection. You may also experience some increased sensitivity in your teeth, sometimes becoming severe.

Gums will never stop deteriorating as long as one is smoking. As deterioration furthers, bacterial growth increases which leads to bad breath, cavities, mouth sores, infections and plaque growth. If plaque remains on the teeth long enough, it hardens, becomes tarter, and irritates the teeth and gums even more.

Tooth and Consequences: Alcohol Can Wreck Your Smile

Authored By American Addiction Centers Editorial Staff Posted to: Addiction Research, Alcoholism, Understanding Addiction

People who consume alcohol excessively and regularly are at great risk to develop tooth decay and periodontal disease. Even having a few drinks regularly can begin to break down the enamel on teeth.

Alcohol and Tooth Decay

The process goes like this: the sugar in alcohol combines with the bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. Plaque that builds up eventually softens the enamel and a cavity, or a hole, will develop.

Once that hole appears, the plaque and bacteria reaches the dentin, the softer part of the tooth underneath the enamel. Tooth decay speeds up without the enamel present as a protector.

As the decaying process continues (and more alcohol is continually added to the mix), plaque and bacteria encounter the soft center of the tooth known as the pulp. The pulp houses nerves and blood vessels that when exposed, lead to great pain and dental abscess.

The Science of Your Mouth

A recent article in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research indicates that the maintenance of soft and hard teeth tissue is largely determined by the chemical make-up of salivary glands that can which can serve as a protector against periodontitis.

However, since heavy and abusive alcohol consumers tend to have poor diets, the salivary glands are also affected and interact poorly with the mouth’s bacteria.

Oral Health Falls Low on the “To Do” List

Alcoholics entering recovery are usually consumed with their immediate recovery needs…and rightfully so. With detox and withdrawal symptoms to endure, oral hygiene tends to become a secondary priority for everyone, regardless of where they are on the disease spectrum.

Those who are homeless need to address housing and employment needs immediately after entering recovery. Those who have jobs, but no insurance, often need direction and resources for dealing with the oral issues caused by alcoholism. Even those who have jobs and good insurance must still face long-term dental plans to obtain both oral health and the bright smiles they desire.

Back to the Basics

A Washington D.C.-based insurance agent named Lisa serves as a perfect example of alcohol-related dental problems. After spending a few months in recovery, Lisa says her dentist discovered 14 cavities and severe periodontal disease. She spent the next two years going back and forth to the dentist.

“As I started taking care of my teeth – flossing and brushing – I realized I was learning again how to take care of myself emotionally as well,” says Lisa.

Learn more about the effects of alcohol abuse.

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Alcohol and Teeth: Three Things to Consider Before You Drink

For most people, the holiday season comes replete with chances to spend time with loved ones, nosh on great food and, yes, “cheers” to some of the season’s best bubbly. But whether you prefer champagne to wine or mixed drinks to beer, you should be aware that alcohol and teeth aren’t natural allies. Luckily, a thorough dental hygiene routine can banish the signs of your indulgence as you enjoy the holidays. Here’s how alcohol can affect your teeth and why you might choose one drink over the other.

1. Sugar Content

Sugar intake can be a major risk factor in tooth decay. That’s because the bacteria in your mouth lives on sugar, so sipping on sweet drinks offers that bacteria plenty of fuel to thrive. By choosing beverages that are lower in sugar, you can ensure your holiday merrymaking doesn’t turn into a problem by January.

As Karen MacNeil states in “The Wine Bible,” a dry brut champagne typically has just 0.5 grams of sugar per 5-ounce serving. A doux champagne on the sweeter end of the spectrum can have anywhere between 8 and 10 grams of sugar, making a drier champagne the better choice with respect to your teeth. Wine has a similar spectrum, according to Dr. Mike Roussell, with a typical dry white wine weighing in at roughly 3 grams of sugar per 5-ounce serving, relative to a whopping 8 grams of sugar for a sweet red wine, sherry or port. When in doubt, opt for a drier drink for healthier teeth.

2. Dehydration

The American Dental Association (ADA) warns that one of the often-forgotten side effects of alcohol can be just as damaging to your teeth: dehydration. Alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in saliva flow, so instead of being washed away naturally, bacteria clings to the enamel and increases your risk of tooth decay.

If you’re celebrating the season with a few drinks, be sure to alternate alcohol with a glass or bottle of water to replenish this saliva and keep your mouth cleansed. You can also chew sugar-free gum or pop a mint on your tongue between drinks to increase saliva production further.

3. Staining

When opting for a heavily colored alcohol, you can definitely end up with stained teeth. Red wine, sangria and similar drinks with deep hues not only turn your teeth red, but can result in long-lasting discoloration and overall dullness – which really cramps your style in holiday pictures. Make sure you counteract vibrant drinks with a whitening toothpaste; Colgate Optic White® Express White banishes surface stains and uses hydrogen peroxide to reveal a whiter smile. Not at home? Tuck a package of Colgate Wisp® Optic White® Mini-Brushes into your pocket or bag before the holiday party. You won’t need water to brighten your smile after sipping on a glass of red wine, and your teeth will thank you for it.

Alcohol and teeth may be well-known adversaries, especially during a spirit-filled holiday season. But with a little extra care and attention, it’s OK to enjoy yourself. Just don’t let all of that merrymaking negatively affect your teeth when the holiday season is over.

What does Alcohol do to your Teeth Explained

13th October 2015 10:35 am

Meet our guest bloggers Toothpick, the UK’s largest database to find and book a dentist appointment. When we think alcohol, we don’t often think about oral hygiene. So, we decided that we needed to find out a bit more. Toothpick filled us in on the detrimental effects of alcohol on teeth and gums: what are they and how to avoid them?

What does alcohol do to your teeth?

Almost every adult likes an occasional glass of wine, beer or spirit. However, many of us go for more than just the one, consuming bigger amounts on a regular basis. Not only does this cause high blood pressure (hypertension), which increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, drinking to excess can also seriously affect oral health. What happens to our teeth and gums when drinking alcohol? Is tooth decay and mouth cancer related to frequent alcohol consumption?

The main threat comes from the sugar content in alcohol (including some beer) which, when broken down in your mouth, creates an acidic breeding ground by bacteria and plaque that causes tooth decay.

Many types of alcohol are acidic and sugary, especially when mixed with fizzy drinks or fruit juices, which are also typically high in sugar. Sparkling wine, for example, is more likely to cause damage due to the acidic nature on your teeth. Frequent consumption can cause tooth decay and acid erosion.

Appetite and cravings

You can probably think of a time when you wanted a greasy hamburger and fries after having alcohol. In fact, drinking has an effect on appetite and generally increases cravings for food in the short term after consumption. The science behind this is that when a person drinks, the body responds to large quantities of increased glucose in the system by producing more insulin, which removes the glucose. Once the process has started, the insulin carries on working removing glucose from the blood. Low glucose levels result in feeling tired.

To overcome this feeling of tiredness the body will be craving a carbohydrate boost. Major damage can be done to your teeth by having a few cocktails and then settling for a sugar rush afterwards. It is well known that decision making is affected by alcohol, so it should be reasonable to suspect that the food choices we make while drinking will not be as healthy as they should be.

The facts about alcohol and teeth

  • Alcohol dehydrates and reduces saliva flow. When you don’t produce enough saliva, which helps to neutralise acids in the mouth as it contains anti-bacterial agents, you’re at higher risk of tooth decay. Dry mouth is potentially harmful, causing higher levels of decay and erosion.

  • In addition (and not particularly pleasant), stomach acid is extremely acidic. This means that if you drink to the point of wanting to be sick, this puts your teeth at greater risk of damage.

  • Excessive drinking of alcohol can increase risks of mouth cancer by four times. What’s worse, if you both smoke and drink you’re up to 30 times more likely to develop the disease.

  • In case you are questioning the use of alcohol in mouthwash, you should know that Cancer Research UK advises “oral cancer risk is not associated with use of alcohol-containing mouthwash.”

  • Although teeth are very tough, they can easily become stained over time. Main suspects here are red wine and intensely coloured spirits in particular.

Avoiding dental harm from drinking

To sum up, excessive alcohol consumption on a regular basis could seriously affect oral health, causing decay and erosion and in some cases even mouth cancer. However, remember we established that it’s the sugar and acid in most drinks that causes most harm. In other words, avoid excessive consumption of fruit juices and fizzy drinks in order to protect your teeth and gums. Another tip is to use a straw when consuming alcoholic drinks as the acidic and sugary effects are reduced with less contact on the teeth. Acidic drinks are also less erosive at lower temperatures, so remember to add some ice!

Make your way to Toothpick to sign up or book yourself a dental appointment.

The Effects of Alcohol on Your Teeth


Liquor is made from fermented fruit, grain, or other plant material, then distilled into a high concentration of alcohol. Any alcohol in a large enough quantity will dry your mouth out by shutting down saliva production. Saliva is your mouths way of keeping clean and healthy and without it tooth decay and gum disease become major problems. A lot of people drink liquor mixed in with another beverage of some sort. The common cocktail is either tart, which is acidic, or sweet, which is filled with sugar, both factors you need to watch out for because both can damage your teeth.

This is all looking at light to moderate alcohol consumption. The effects get more pronounced at higher levels. If you drink alcohol, we recommend you do it in moderation, have a glass of water handy, and be aware of what you’re sipping on. Write down and remember any questions you have about alcohol and your teeth the next time you visit your dentist in Greensboro, NC, and remember to keep brushing your teeth regularly.

Whether it’s sugar or reality television, we all have our vices. Some vices are worse for your oral health (and total health) than others. Alcohol and tobacco have been human vices for a very long time. We all know these aren’t considered elements of a healthy lifestyle, but what exactly are the negative effects of these bad habits on our oral health?

Alcohol Consumption and Your Mouth. Alcohol can definitely be part of a healthy lifestyle if consumed in moderation. The U.S. Government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate alcohol consumption as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines heavy drinking as consuming 8 drinks or more per week for women and consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men.

As you might expect, the adverse oral health effects of heavy drinking are more severe than those of moderate drinking, but any amount of alcohol affects your mouth. Alcoholism is the second most common risk factor in the development of oral cancer, second only to tobacco use. Heavy drinkers also have an increased risk of periodontal disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and mouth sores.

Though still present, the effects of moderate drinking are much less detrimental to the long-term health of your mouth. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror after a glass or two of red wine, you might be aware of its staining effects. Like coffee, some alcohols contribute to the discoloration of your teeth.

You may have heard that using alcohol-based cleansers dries out your skin. The same thing is true with your mouth. Alcohol has a drying effect on your mouth which leaves bacteria sitting on your teeth with no saliva to wash it off. This (and a hangover) can be avoided by staying hydrated while enjoying your alcoholic beverage.

While all alcohol has some effect on your teeth, some drink choices are better than others. Clear-colored liquids paired with low-sugar mixers won’t stain as badly and contain less cavity-causing acid to attack your teeth.

The Effects of Cigarettes on Your Oral Health. I’m sure you’ve been told time and again about how horrible cigarettes are for your health. In addition to the damage they cause to your heart and lungs, cigarettes also do a number on your oral health.

As I mentioned earlier, tobacco use is the number one cause of oral cancers. Smokers are six times more likely to develop mouth or throat cancer than non-smokers, and smokeless tobacco is even more dangerous than cigarettes when it comes to mouth cancer risks.

Smoking cigarettes weakens your body’s immune system, which in turn lets the bacteria in your mouth take hold. Smokers are more likely to have advanced cases of periodontal disease, which can lead to a myriad of health problems ranging from tooth loss to a heart attack.

In addition to the big, life-threatening side effects, smoking causes your smile to become discolored and dull. Over time, you also become less receptive to taste and develop chronic bad breath.

Reach Out. Your dentist is the perfect person to start the “time to quit” conversation with. They can give you resources and advice that will help get your health back on track. Here are a couple of other valuable resources as well.

https://www.aa.org/: The Alcoholics Anonymous site is full of helpful information and has a locator for support meetings in your area.

https://smokefree.gov/: There’s an official site to support you on your journey to quit smoking for good. There’s material geared towards veterans, women, teens, Spanish-speaking individuals, and individuals over the age of 60.

For as far back as we can tell, humans have been drinking fermented beverages. Probably for just as long, we’ve been discussing the benefits and drawbacks of drinking alcohol. Today’s scientists have generated several studies reporting the positive effects of alcohol on our health. Red wine, for example, contains resveratrol, an antioxidant thought to help prevent heart disease and some types of cancer (medical news). Other alcoholic drinks such as whiskey are thought to be linked to health benefits as well. A moderate amount of whiskey has been linked to lowered stress levels, reduced risk of diabetes, and stroke. Beer is thought to reduce the risk of kidney stones.

But what are the effects on your gums mouth and teeth?

First, we need to differentiate between heavy drinkers and moderate drinkers. Heavy drinking has been defined as 4 or more drinks in one sitting for women and 5 or more drinks in one sitting for men. A heavy drinking habit is also defined as 8 or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Drinking, whether moderate or heavy, does have an effect on our oral health. Heavy drinkers are at much higher risk for gum disease, canker sores, tooth decay, and oral cancer.

The consequences of moderate drinking are less severe. The acidity in some alcoholic drinks (such as wine) weakens enamel and makes your teeth more susceptible to discoloration and staining. If you are mixing your drinks with soda such as Coke or Pepsi you are exposing your teeth to more potentially staining color. Habitual consumption of dark soda’s, wine, and coffee make it difficult to brighten your smile.

Alcohol also causes mouth dryness. Saliva kills bacteria in the mouth and helps to remove plaque. Therefore, an adequate amount of saliva is necessary to protect the mouth from gum disease and tooth decay.

Many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and/or citrus, the number one cause of tooth decay. This is because the bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar. In addition, citrus (such as lemon) helps to break down enamel and makes your teeth more susceptible to cavities.

4 tips to protect your teeth

You can still enjoy that glass of wine or after-dinner drink once in a while. Here are a few preventative measures to protect your teeth from the effects of alcohol.

  1. Brush your teeth before you go out. The plaque and tartar on your teeth are magnets for red wine, making it stick to your teeth and worsening the potential for stain.
  2. Alternate your sips of alcohol with sips of water. Not only will you rinse your mouth of acidity and sugar, but you will also protect your body from dehydration.
  3. Take extra care to brush and floss your teeth regularly.
  4. Visit your dentist regularly to make sure your mouth remains in optimal health.

Reach out today

For more tips about improving your oral health and for quality care by our expert dental staff, reach out today. Call us to schedule an appointment, or just fill out the contact form and press send.

Is Drinking Wine Bad for Your Teeth?

There’s been a popular belief surrounding red wine and its benefits to heart health floating around for years. We even found an article suggesting that drinking a glass of red wine a day has the same type of benefits as spending an hour at the gym. But we’re not here to debunk or support any of these claims. Instead, our dental office in Lakeland is here to talk about whether or not drinking wine is bad for your teeth.

Varying Opinions

Some online sources are passionately claiming that red wine can be good for oral health. At the same time, there are others telling us that drinking red wine can have detrimental effects on our teeth. So who’s right? Is drinking red wine really great for our smiles, or really bad? Let’s take a look…

The Claim: Drinking Wine is Good For Oral Health

A study published by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry supports the idea that red wine can decrease tooth decay. In their research, scientists tested the biofilm of several participants. The biofilm was loaded with bacteria that’s naturally found in the mouth. After exposing the biofilm and bacteria to red wine, researchers observed that the wine removed the bacteria. And with no bacteria, there’s little risk for decay and cavities.

The Claim: Drinking Wine is Bad for Teeth

Wine, both red and white, is highly acidic. This acid can deteriorate tooth enamel and cause teeth to look yellow. Without protective enamel, teeth are also at risk for bacteria and decay. Even though your dentist in Lakeland has solutions to fix all these problems, it’s best to avoid them in the first place.

The Conclusion

Essentially, more research on the effects that wine has on oral health is needed before we can say the benefits outweigh the concerns. However, it’s safe to say that any risks associated with drinking wine, including risks to your oral health, can be minimized by drinking it in moderation and responsibly. To further protect your smile from any negative side effects of wine, consider:

  • Drinking water after drinking wine. Water helps neutralize acid and wash it away. It’s even better if you can rinse your mouth out.
  • Not brushing right after enjoying a glass. Brushing your teeth too soon can spread the acid expose your entire mouth to its damaging effects.

Whether you enjoy your nightly glass of wine or partake only occasionally, keep an eye on your teeth. If you notice any discoloration, call our Lakeland dental office to talk about professional smile whitening or cosmetic dentistry. Of course, we’re always welcoming new patients would happy to see you no matter what your dental needs may be.

The scourge of “wine teeth,” explained

There are many difficult things about socializing with others, but one of the most pressing is the matter of “wine teeth.” Also known as “wine mouth,” this is the phenomenon whereby you realize that the red wine you have been drinking has given your teeth a distinctly purple cast, reminiscent of a vampire post-feeding.

But the cruel twist is that, like musical ability or inherited wealth, wine teeth are not distributed equally among the population. Some people are forever plagued by wine teeth — “I look like a cannibal with poor hygiene when I drink red wine!” lamented one Vox staffer who will remain anonymous — while others seem to emerge from the drinking experience unscathed.

I had assumed it had to do with moral virtue, the way you can tell if someone is a witch based on whether they float or sink. But according to Dr. Uchenna Akosa, a dentist and head of faculty practice at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, the answer is much simpler. There are two factors that determine the severity of wine teeth: the nature of red wine and the particularities of your tooth enamel.

Red wine is red because of anthocyanins, the red pigment in grapes. It is also high in tannins, which lend it a delicious astringency, but — in an unfortunate turn — help that pigment bind to your teeth. And your teeth are vulnerable at this moment because of a third factor: acid. Red wine is acidic, and this acidity etches your enamel, making it more porous, and making it easier for the stain to stick, Akosa says. White wine is acidic, too — even more acidic than red, in fact — but it doesn’t stain your teeth, because … it’s white.

But not all teeth are the same. Plaque, for example, can cause the appearance of staining, which is why Akosa advises that in an ideal world, you’d brush your teeth 30 minutes before drinking. Because that is not always possible, she recommends regular dental cleanings.

Does that mean wine-stained teeth are indicative of a hygiene issue? No. Or at least, likely not. There’s also genetics to consider. “Maybe one person is more prone to plaque buildup and the other isn’t,” Akosa says. “Maybe one person has stronger enamel and the other doesn’t.” It’s true that the strength of your enamel depends, in part, on general health and hygiene, but it’s also true that there’s only so much you can do about it — especially once you’re older. “Like someone in their 40s,” she tells me. “If the enamel is not strong by that time, it’s already too late.” This is grim, but also heartening; it is always reassuring to learn misfortune might not be your fault.

Still, there are steps one can take to mitigate indignity: brush before, but not right after — toothpaste, Akosa warns, will only cause more etching. Don’t drink white wine before red wine, since the extra acid in the white will exacerbate the staining.

But what about the wine itself, I wanted to know? Was it possible that if I drink a glass of one red, and you drink a glass of another, our teeth might stain differently not because of who we are but because of what we sipped?


The longer answer requires a brief foray into the mechanics of winemaking. Different grape varietals — a pinot noir grape, a merlot grape — are different colors, with skins of different thicknesses, explains Cha McCoy, a very patient sommelier based in New York City. Dark, thick-skinned grapes tend to produce darker, fuller-bodied wines than their more delicate counterparts.

Is it that straightforward? No, of course not, this is wine we’re talking about; the nuances are endless, we could be here for the rest of our short lives. In addition to the particulars of the grape, there is the question of how exactly the wine is made. Reds get their color not from the juice itself — grape flesh itself is almost always white — but from how long the juice sat in contact with the skins: the longer, the darker.

“I like to say the darker the wine, the darker the teeth,” Julia Coney, a wine writer based in Washington, DC, tells me. A pinot noir, for example — less tannic, and less physically dark than a soulful cabernet — is also likely to be less staining. “If I think of cabernets, I’m going to have purple teeth at night. Malbec, I’m going to have purple teeth.” So if you are trying to avoid the telltale mulberry stain, you might be better off with a nice pinot noir, or an elegant gamay.

Because it is a violation of the social contract — and because whoever is trying to assist you will likely be confused — McCoy recommends not asking your local wine store for “a non-staining red.” Instead, ask for something with “a lighter body,” she says. “That’s a quick, easy way, without confusing the wine retailer.”

But sometimes that is not what you want, and that is okay. According to Coney, the solution is simple: damp paper towels. “Cut up a white paper towel and just carry the strips in your purse or pocket. And when you go to the bathroom, just wipe off the film . It helps tremendously,” she says, pointing out that every layer you’re not wiping off just stays there, getting redder and redder, drink after drink.

In conclusion, it is possible your clear-mouthed companion has better and stronger enamel than you. It is also possible they just have paper towels.

We all love happy hour, the specials, the snacks, the drinks. Keep in mind that all alcoholic beverages pose a serious threat to your oral health. Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth. This reduces saliva flow which can cause serious problems over time such as tooth decay and gum disease. Sipping on sugary cocktails has the added danger of bathing your teeth in sugar for a long time.

Wine deserves special mention as we know it stains your teeth. There are other concerns as well. Being an alcohol, wine dries the mouth and can also make teeth sticky, promoting stain formation. In addition, both red and white wines are very acidic which we already know may be harmful to your teeth. Keep in mind that while red wine can stain your teeth, white wines are more acidic, so they might be even more dangerous to your enamel.

When it comes to coffee, its common knowledge how bad coffee stains your teeth, and coffee stains are among the worst for your teeth as they are very stubborn. In addition, just like with wine, coffee makes teeth sticky and also dries out your mouth. It gets even worse if you add sugar to sweeten your coffee as there are few things worse for your teeth than sugar. If that’s not enough, coffee is also acidic, which we know wears down enamel. Of course, we don’t expect you to stop drinking your favorite beverage, but to minimize the damage please drink plenty of water afterwards and try to avoid additives like sugar.

Brushing after a meal/beverage is of course always a great option, remember to wait 20 minutes if you’ve consumed highly acidic foods/beverages that have weakened your enamel. If possible, always rinse your mouth with water after a meal and drink lots of water throughout the day as well. Try using a straw when drinking highly acidic beverages to minimize their contact with your teeth.


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