Heart-Healthy Doesn’t Mean Tooth-Friendly

Heart-Healthy Doesn’t Mean Tooth-Friendly

News about the health benefits– and risks— of wine are a-plenty; from cavity-fighting to heart health… and of course the risks of over-indulgence. Now Dentistry Today has released another news story on red wine that may be swinging the pendulum back towards the “no” side of the spectrum.

It is true that red wine can have cardiovascular benefits, and its antimicrobial properties are currently under study– but there are more variables to this historic drink. Two variables are examined now: acidity and sugar load.

Acid wash?

According to Dentistry Today, in a recent survey only 16 percent of people indulging in a glass of wine consider the oral health affects of the drink. However, it is known that red wine is high in acidity. Exposure to acid– particularly the type of exposure your teeth have when gently sipping that Oregon Pinot Noir after a long day at the office– can really damage your tooth enamel. Because your tooth enamel is your fortress standing between the health of your teeth and hungry bacteria, this can have serious effects.

Sticky situation

At the same time, sugars in wine create the same problem– if in a different way. Sugar, as we know, is food for bacteria. And when bacteria eat those sugars, their metabolic byproduct of that meal is acid. So in the end, your tooth enamel is still exposed to a lot of damaging acid, and that’s where the problem lies.

Wait, you ask– what about those so-called antimicrobial properties of red wine? How is bacteria turning sugar into acid if wine has bactericidal action in your mouth? Good point. It’s worth noting, however, that the antimicrobial properties of wine are being studied right now; however, our understanding between sugar, acid, and the health of dental enamel is pretty sound.

What can you do?

Well, with all this (at times conflicting) information, health experts advise caution. Drinking an occasional glass of wine is certainly no crime, and as we already know, may be good for your heart’s health, after all– so instead of abstinence, be picky about your drinks:

Sweet, bubbly wines are the most acidic, and the highest in sugar content. Stay away from sparkling wines or champagne as much as possible. Additionally, the rule of sugar and acid applies to other alcoholic drinks too: when going out, try to avoid fizzy sweet beverages, and take sips of water in between sips of your drink rinse your mouth of sugar.

And don’t forget to ask us!

Gresham Smile Designs is your resource for great oral health. If you think your teeth stain easily or you’re worried about how something you’re eating or drinking might be affecting your smile, please ask! Bring your questions with you at your next appointment with Dr. Ries, the best dentist Gresham Oregon has


Photo Credit: Pen Waggener via Compfight cc

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