We’ve all experienced the embarrassment of getting home from dinner and finding food stuck in our teeth, but what’s equally bad is realizing that your teeth have been stained blood-red by a glass of Merlot! Red wine teeth are not a pretty sight (um, can you say vampire?), and once the stains have settled the color is hard to get off. Fortunately, there are a few helpful tricks for keeping your smile pearly white all night. (These are 9 things dentists wish you knew about teeth whitening.)
To start, red wine stains are entirely avoidable, so the best actions you can take are preventative measures. New York City makeup artist Anni Bruno is an expert at getting her clients ready for special events like weddings, galas, parties, and photo shoots. Her primary advice for avoiding red stains is to “make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before drinking red wine. The stains you see after a glass of wine are actually the wine sticking to plaque on the teeth. So make sure to brush and floss beforehand,” says Bruno.
To fully remove plaque buildup, you also need to regularly visit your dentist for routine, deep cleanings. On top of brushing in the morning and at night, it’s wise to carry a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste in order to do an extra scrub before you start drinking (leaving the office before going to dinner, for example). And although it’s counterintuitive, dentists advise that you don’t brush your teeth too soon after drinking red wine, as this can cause the wine’s acid to penetrate the pores of your teeth, and further erode your enamel.
If you do happen to find yourself with red wine teeth stains despite brushing them, don’t panic! Bruno has a foolproof method for getting rid of the tint. “After drinking a glass of red, chase it with a glass of sparkling water,” she says. “It’s good for hydrating—and the effervescence will help loosen the red wine’s stainy effect.”
For those who aren’t fans of sparkling water, the next best way to get rid of red wine stains is to eat cheese, so it’s a good thing these two go hand in hand! Eating cheese causes calcium to build on your teeth and closes the micro-pores on the surface of your enamel, which makes it harder for red wine to stain them. Here are other foods that naturally whiten your teeth.
To be extra prepared, you can even invest in red wine teeth wipes, which work wonders if you want to run to the restroom and quickly remove any dark stains.
And finally, Bruno advises that you make wise choices when choosing which wine to drink. “Stick to lighter reds than heavier, darker reds,” she says. “The darker the red, the more staining tannins it will contain.”