What is Red Wine Teeth and How to Prevent It?

Dr Sukanya Goswami
Sukanya has done BDS. She is a dentist, a blogger, an extrovert, and a travel enthusiast. She is also a spiritual believer. When she is not working, you can find her reading books.

The best time of the year comes around Christmas and New Year. It is a time for celebrations with friends and family.

Although the traditions may vary in every city or country, one thing that is shared in common is a bottle of red wine. But drinking red wine can bring along major cosmetic issues.


Red wine contains pigments called chromogens which gives it the intense, deep purple color. These chromogens stain the surface of the teeth.

The severity of staining depends on the nature of your tooth enamel. The chromogens in red wine, easily stain the porous and irregular surface of the enamel.

In addition to this, contributing factors like acids and tannins and plaque, play a crucial role in staining the teeth.

But you don’t have to worry about red wine staining. Following simple oral health care methods can prevent staining of red wine.

Now you can enjoy your holidays with your family without having to avoid red wine. Let’s get into the article and learn some quick tips to prevent red wine teeth.

What do you mean by red wine teeth?

Red wine teeth is a term associated with a common occurrence related to teeth staining in people who consume wine.

Usually, you may notice distinct purple discoloration of teeth among wine lovers. Such staining is termed as red wine teeth. (1)

Red wine contains strong pigments called chromogens. After a few sips of red wine, these chromogens embed in the porous and irregular surface of the tooth enamel.

The pigments then stain the teeth, giving it a deep purple or magenta hue.

What causes red wine teeth?

Specific contributing factors help in staining of the teeth, while you enjoy a glass of red wine –

Acids and Tannins

Red wine is an acidic drink. The acids and tannins present in the wine contribute in two ways –

  • The acids cause enamel erosion and make the absorption of chromogens easy on the surface of the enamel.
  • Tannins are compounds that cause dry-mouth while drinking wine. This mechanism allows the chromogens to bind to the tooth surface and stick on. (2)


Dental plaque is a soft biofilm that forms on the surface of the teeth after every meal. It is mainly made up of the food particles, bacteria and sloughed tissue cells that separate from the lining of the mouth. (3)

Plaque is a rough, sticky layer and gets stained easily by red wine. The severity of red wine teeth increases in people who have high plaque build-up.

Plaque can be easily removed from the surface of the teeth by regular brushing and flossing.

Texture of Enamel

The texture of enamel plays a crucial role in allowing red wine staining.

In simple terms, the smoother your enamel surface is, the lesser your teeth will be stained. Rough, cracked and bumpy texture of enamel allows the stain to embed in the irregularities easily.

Acids are significant contributors to causing enamel erosion.

Proper oral healthcare and routine dental check-ups are essential at this time to prevent enamel erosions.

Type of wine

Not all red wine work in a similar manner. The amount of acids and tannins present in each variety of wine makes them different from one another.

A dark wine contains a potential amount of chromogens, acids, and tannins. These wines are more likely to stain your teeth.

To avoid quick staining of teeth, always look for a light colored wine that has fewer tannins.

How can you prevent red wine teeth?

Treating the contributing factors usually helps to avoid red wine staining. Here are some of the tips that you can follow to prevent red wine teeth –

Keep your teeth clean

Plaque is a significant contributor in red wine staining. Removing plaque periodically will help to maintain a clean environment.

  • Regular brushing and flossing habits play a supporting role in cleaning the teeth. Whenever you plan to drink wine, brush, and floss before you start drinking, a lesser plaque will allow minor staining of the teeth.
  • Another way to get your teeth squeaky clean is professional teeth cleaning. Your hygienist will efficiently remove the plaque build-up and also polish your teeth to smoothen out any irregularities in the surface. This prevents natural staining of the teeth and maintains the health of the enamel.

Protect your tooth enamel

There can be numerous reasons that contribute to the rough and irregular texture of the enamel. Eliminating all the possible factors will help to maintain a smooth and intact enamel surface.

  • Use of Whitening toothpaste – Whitening toothpaste usually contains polishing particles that smoothen out the irregularities and remove staining from the teeth. Choose a whitening toothpaste that has an ADA seal for useful results.
  • Use of fluoridated toothpaste – If you don’t prefer using a whitening toothpaste, you can opt for a fluoridated toothpaste. Fluorides chemically react with the minerals in the enamel and strengthen the teeth. They effectively remove the irregularities from the surface, making enamel less susceptible to staining.

Other methods include –

  • Rinse your mouth with water – Water neutralizes the acids in the mouth and prevents enamel erosion. The gentle swishing of water in the mouth flushes out the stains from the surface of the teeth.
  • Clean the wine stains before you sleep – A damp towel or wine wipes can help to remove the stains from the surface of the teeth. Use the wipes gently; do not scrub hard.
  • Do not Brush immediately – Immediate brushing scrubs the acid on the tooth surface. It makes it more prone to erosion. Wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid consumption of other acidic drinks – High acidic content makes the enamel more susceptible to staining. Avoid use of any more acidic beverages.

Professional treatments to fix red wine teeth

A case of red wine staining is a common occurrence in a dental clinic. While professional treatments can fix teeth staining immediately, it is advised to continue following the preventive healthcare tips as mentioned above.

Laser teeth whitening is a modern and effective dental procedure to remove staining from the teeth. The process gets completed in an hour leaving the teeth bright and white. (4)

Another treatment that can help you get rid of red wine teeth is the use of porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers cover the surface of the teeth. They work well for intrinsic and stubborn stains. (5)

If you are looking for a professional solution, contact your dentist at the earliest. A dentist will provide the best treatment options that may suit your case.

Take away message

Have you ever been stared at your teeth while you speak? Well, that may be your magenta smile caused by red wine staining.

Family gatherings, especially during the holiday season is often celebrated with a bottle of finest red wine.


But drinking red wine comes with a cosmetic problem. Teeth staining is a common dental issue that you may experience if you are a wine lover.

So how can you enjoy your drink without being self-conscious about your smile?

There are simple preventive measures that focus on eliminating the contributing factors of teeth staining. Following these tips religiously will provide you a cheerful natural smile.


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