Almost three-quarters (74%) of American adults feel that an unattractive smile can hinder — or even harm — their career success. That seems understandable: smiles can communicate lightheartedness and pleasure in a way that puts people at ease. In the workplace, they could be what makes your boss trust you, and therefore consider you for that big upcoming promotion.
Unfortunately, American adults love wine, too — specifically those made with teeth-hating tannins. Wine is the preferred alcoholic beverage of 31% of adults in this country, with 38% of those drinkers favoring red over white. Though the bold-colored liquid is supposed to be chock-full of antioxidants and good for your heart, it isn’t so good for your teeth. As the cleverly-named ‘wine teeth’ phenomenon continues to persist, Americans are forced to choose between a blindingly white smile and a glass of their favorite red.
The Science Of Stains
Red wines (and all wines, in fact) contain tannins. These organic substances have been used in leather manufacturing — hence the term tanning — for centuries. Since they are so successful at staining animal hide, it’s unsurprising that they do the same to our teeth.
The outer layers of teeth are made of enamel, an extremely hard and durable substance that is also, unfortunately, quite porous. The acidity of wine etches the enamel and opens up these pores, allowing the pigment of the beverage access to the stark white layers of your teeth; the tannins present help that bold pigment bind to the surface, resulting in a stain that sticks easier and lasts longer. Fun fact: white wine actually contains more tannins than red, we just can’t tell that the color is ‘sticking’ because white wine lacks pigmentation.
A Dental Solution
With over 195,000 practicing dentists in this country (7,030 alone in Arizona), there simply must be a solution to the scourge of the stain. Though you may be tempted to try all manner of over the counter cures and quick-fixes, the easiest and most effective way to combat wine teeth woes is to get them professionally whitened.
Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, acting in yin-and-yang tandem with tannins. Dental offices use high-quality hydrogen peroxide formulas in their applications, ensuring that you’ll see results by the time you walk out the door; compare this to sticky strips and gels that take weeks or months to show a hint of a difference, and it’s obvious which one you should rely on. However, professional dental whitening comes with some rules. In order for hydrogen peroxide to break up the stains, it has to access them; this means that it effectively makes that persnickety enamel more porous after application — if you drink a glass of red wine within 48 hours after getting your teeth whitened, they’re going to pick up the pigments effortlessly, revealing a darker stain and a more intense case of wine teeth.
Don’t neglect all your efforts because you’re jonesing for a glass of red after a stressful day at work; put the bottle of 100% Carignan ‘Pleasant Peasant’ down and settle for a glass of milk. The basic beverage can help rebuild tooth enamel by providing calcium and phosphorus; though it won’t taste nearly as satisfying, it may just convince your boss that you’re the best candidate for that life-changing (cha-ching) promotion!