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White or Red?
February 14th, 2011 by Dr. Watson

The age old debate over wine has covered hundreds of years and thousands of topics. Which tastes better? Which is more sophisticated? Which has less calories? Which has more health benefits? Now, a number of new studies are adding another topic to the controversy: which one is better for your teeth?

Everyone knows that drinking red wine can leave unsightly stains your teeth, but a recent study shows that white wine may actually be a worse culprit than its darker cousin. Scientists at the New York University College of Dentistry studied the effects on tooth whiteness, and found that although red wine discolors, white wine actually dissolves a microlayer of tooth, making it rougher and more vulnerable. If this is followed with staining drinks such as coffee and tea, or acidic foods such as citrus fruits, the resulting damage could be harmful to the health of your mouth.

Another study by a team from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, confirmed their findings and also discovered that the longer the time you spend drinking white wine, and the more frequently you drink it, the worse the damage will be to your teeth. Some ways to counteract these affects include making sure you eat a calcium-rich diet, limiting the other damaging food or drinks you have, and waiting 20 to 30 minutes to brush your teeth. Brushing too soon after white wine will cause more damage to their already weakened state. Instead, rinse with water and try using whitening toothpaste when you do brush.

To add to the debate, researchers at Pavia University in Italy found that a bacteria that feeds on sugars in food, contributing to cavities, was unable to cling to teeth when red wine was present. Another study from Lavel University in Quebec, Canada found that compounds in red wine may in fact prevent and treat inflammatory gum diseases.

So white or red wine? That’s for you to decide!