Health Topics

Healthy Living

December 2011
Untainted Teeth for a Pearly Smile
Dr Ashish Kakkar
you might have a problem at hand if you like red wine. Factually speaking, there are chances that you see your teeth getting stained from time to time. This, therefore, raises important questions for wine lovers, such as - does red wine pose any long-term concerns for your teeth? Can you do anything about it? 

Red wine affects teeth primarily in two ways: 
  • The immediate effect of having purple teeth stains - purple teeth stains are actually a thin coating of red wine on your teeth, gums and tongue.
  • Long-term, gradual staining (which may also be associated with coffee, tea and other beverages) – because of acids in wine eroding the tooth enamel.
Rectification is a big job for your dentist, wouldn’t you say? But not many know that the immediate effects of purple teeth stains can easily be brushed off! As far as preventing tooth enamel erosion is concerned, drinking red wine in moderation can go a long way in protecting your teeth.

What to do?

Do not brush immediately after wine tasting.
The high acidity of wine makes your teeth sensitive to abrasion; tooth enamel erosion could be a possibility.
Drink red wine in moderation. In fact, studies have demonstrated red wine to have a protective effect against heart disease and some forms of cancer.  

Types of teeth stains

Extrinsic Stains
– due of plaque and calculus deposits, caused because of:
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Colour leakage from fillings
  • Intake of beverages such as tea, coffee, and cola drinks
  • Smoking and tobacco chewing
Intrinsic Stains – because of:
  • Treatment with tetracycline when teeth are getting formed
  • Excessive ingestion of fluoride when teeth are getting formed
  • Trauma or injury which might have resulted in the death of the tooth's nerve, giving it a brown, gray or black tinge
  • Graying and/or yellowing with age
Smoking causes teeth stains too!
  • Smoking directly deposits condensed stain on teeth. Such a stain forms a sticky brown mass called TAR of poly-phenolic compounds on the inside and outside of teeth, fingernails and lung tissue.
  • Tobacco staining on teeth is often superficial in the first few years of smoking, and can be readily removed by professional cleaning and polishing.
  • However, with time, the staining tends to spread into microscopic cracks in the enamel. Such staining is far more difficult to remove, and there is a risk that teeth may become permanently stained. 
  • The extent of staining depends on the duration and frequency of the habit, as well as the oral hygiene of the individual.
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
  • See additional information.