If you drink red wine, a few simple steps can help you avoid “wine teeth” or “merlot mouth.” The purple pigments in red wine can stain teeth with the help of acid in the wine (which promotes erosion of tooth enamel so teeth become more porous to the pigment) and tannins (which help the pigments latch on).
It may sound counterintuitive, but to avoid staining, brush before drinking the wine, not right after. Brushing before gets rid of the film of developing plaque on teeth to which the wine pigments could otherwise stick. Don’t brush for at least 30 minutes after drinking, since brushing can cause temporary etching in tooth enamel that has been softened by the wine’s acidity, and this could boost the ability ofthe stain to soak in.
Instead, rinse your mouth with water after drinking wine to help remove the staining particles. Eating while you drink also helps stop staining by acting as a barrier to the acids and by promoting saliva flow.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
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