In what will surely come as quite a buzz kill to wine lovers who think they’re helping out their smiles by choosing white over red, researchers have released the results of a new study. Turns out the acid content of wine of any color increases a propensity for dark dental stains if the drinker also takes tea or coffee.
New York University researchers compared the staining effects of both red and white wines by submerging cow teeth (the surface is similar to human teeth—sorry cows) in white wine for about an hour, followed by a soak in some black tea.
Although still deemed better than red, the acidity of the white wine left teeth susceptible to the tea stains.
“I used to give out this voodoo advice that patients should drink white wine, not red,” says Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, a professor and chairman of the department of cardiology and comprehensive care at NYU’s College of Dentistry. “But I was wrong.”
Wolff goes on to point out that it’s what you eat and drink while consuming the wine that counts, not the wine itself. “If you’re consuming white wine, white grapes, and cheese, you aren’t going to see any staining,” he says.
And here’s another tip: Brushing right after drinking wine or eating acidic foods may damage the tooth’s structure, according to Wolff. “Saliva has the capability of re-mineralizing the tooth structure and neutralizing damage,” he adds, “so give it forty minutes to an hour before you brush your teeth.”
However, before planning a summer of martini drinking, take these findings with a grain of salt. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t actually hold your beverages in your mouth for an hour or more. Richard Price, DMD, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association says of the study, “When you take a sip of wine, your front teeth probably aren’t even touching it, that’s very different than submerging your teeth in wine, so I don’t know what the relevance to real life is here.”