Why Red Wine Turns Teeth Purple

By James Madeiros


The Purple People-Greeter

It’s a simple problem – you’d like to drink red wine without it staining your teeth. It was funny when your Sno Cone lit up your face when you were 12, and it’s kind of sexy during Halloween, especially in the era of Twilight, but it is generally not a good look.

So why does it happen and how can you stop it?

Teeth are made of porous enamel which is prone to absorbing stains from many sources in addition to red wine, such as coffee, tea, berries, soy sauce and even curry. A good rule of thumb is that if it can stain your clothes or carpet, it can also stain your teeth. But what makes teeth even more susceptible to wine stains is that wine is also very acidic, which serves to weaken the enamel just as it is being exposed to wine’s staining properties.

It’s a one-two combo that only the genetically strongest of choppers can resist. But, if you somehow weren’t fortunate enough to inherit great granny Edna’s stain-resistant smile, there are still steps you can take to lessen the impact of red wine.

The best thing you can do to avoid immediate staining is to try to sip water along with your red wine. This type of staining is not actually a stain and shouldn’t be cause for alarm – it is a temporary coating of wine-darkened saliva, and can be removed with some rinsing.

It is important, though, not to brush in a stain, even the temporary kind. Since the acid in the wine weakens the enamel, hard brushing right after drinking red wine can serve to further embed what was once before a less serious stain, or not a stain at all.

Finally, remember that cheaters never prosper – the acidity in white wine can stain your teeth as well, and can pave the way for more serious staining if followed up with red wine.


Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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