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Study: White Wine Can Make Tooth Stains Darker

Cow’s teeth that were immersed in white wine and black tea (left), and in red wine and black tea, (right). The upper part of the teeth displays the staining effects of the liquids, while the bottom, which was protected with wax, maintains the teeth’s original color.
April 1, 2009 -- It has long been known that red wine causes teeth to stain. But white wine? A recent study by NYU dental researchers found that drinking white wine can also increase the potential for teeth to take on dark stains.

The researchers compared two sets of six cow teeth, whose surface closely resembles that of human teeth, and used a spectrophotometer, an instrument that measures color intensities, to evaluate staining levels.

They found that teeth soaked for one hour in white wine before being immersed in black tea had significantly darker stains than teeth immersed for one hour in water before exposure to the tea.

“Dipping teeth in white wine for one hour is similar to the effect of sipping the wine with dinner,” said Dr. Mark Wolff, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry, who oversaw the study, which was led by Ms. Cristina M. Dobrescu, a third-year student at New York University College of Dentistry. The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research in Miami.

“The acids in wine 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,” Dr. Wolff explained.

Still, red wine continues to beat out white wine when it comes to staining teeth. When the researchers repeated the experiment with red wine, the resulting stains were significantly darker than those in the white wine group. “Red wine, unlike white, contains a highly-pigmented substance known as chromogen,” explained Dr. Wolff.

But he added that connoisseurs concerned about staining need not cut back on their consumption. “The best way to prevent staining caused by wine, as well as other beverages, is to use a toothpaste containing a whitening agent,” advised Dr. Wolff.

Dr. Denise Estafan, an Associate Professor of Cariology & Comprehensive Care, was a coinvestigator on the study.

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