April 1, 2009 -- Wine doesn’t have to be red to cause stains on your pearly whites, a new study says. White wine also can create conditions that enable chemicals in other beverages, such as coffee and tea, to leave tints on teeth, say researchers from the New York University College of Dentistry.
Dental scientists soaked cows’ teeth in either white wine, red wine, or water for an hour and then immersed the choppers in tea.
Teeth soaked in white wine before being immersed in tea had significantly darker stains than teeth immersed in water before exposure to tea, researchers say.
But cows’ teeth soaked in red wine became significantly darker than those in the white wine group after exposure to tea, they say.
“Dipping teeth in white wine for one hour is similar to the effect of sipping the wine with dinner,” Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, professor and chairman of the department of cardiology and comprehensive care at NYU’s College of Dentistry, says in a news release.
The acids in wine, he says, “create rough spots and grooves that enable chemicals in other beverages that cause staining, such as coffee and tea, to penetrate deeper into the tooth.”
Both red and white wine affect the surfaces of teeth and make them “more susceptible” to staining from dark drinks, the researchers say in a study abstract.
But red wine, long known to stain teeth, should still be seen as more hazardous to whiteness because “Red wine, unlike white, contains a highly pigmented substance known as chromagen,” says Wolff, who oversaw the study. Tea also contains chromagens.
The researchers used a spectrophotometer, a device that measures color intensities, to evaluate staining levels.
The study was led by Cristina M. Dobrescu, a third-year dentistry student at the NYU College of Dentistry. Denise Estafan, DDS, an associate professor in the College of Dentistry, was co-investigator. Their findings were presented at the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research.
Wolff suggests that the study isn’t necessarily bad news for connoisseurs of the grape.
“The best way to prevent staining caused by wine, as well as other beverages, is to use a tooth paste containing a whitening agent,” he says.