There’s nothing quite as frustrating as drinking a delicious, full-bodied Merlot, only to catch sight of yourself in a mirror and notice that you’ve got purple stained lips and teeth! Read on to find out why red wine mouth happens, and how best to avoid it…
What is Red Wine Mouth?
There are three main culprits when it comes to staining your mouth: anthocyanins, tannins, and acid. Anthocyanins are responsible for the reddish purple colour in grapes, and sit on your teeth, lips, and gums, giving them a purple tinge. Tannins give wine that bitter, astringent taste, and are found in higher levels in full-bodied reds. The astringency in tannins helps to bond pigments to the surface of your teeth. Acid, in turn, softens the enamel on the surface of your teeth, making it more porous and more likely to absorb staining colours.
Brush Before, Not After!
Red wine sticks to plaque buildup on your teeth, so brushing before drinking to ensure a smooth, clean surface can reduce staining. Be sure to brush with a good toothbrush at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking, as the enamel on your teeth is softer for a short time after brushing, which can also help to absorb pigmentation. Be sure not to brush your teeth straight after drinking as the porosity caused by brushing can cause permanent stains! To be safe, wait at least 30 minutes after drinking.
Don’t Drink White Before Red
Did you know that white wine has higher acidity levels than red? That means that drinking white before red actually increases your chances of staining!
Keep Paper Towels Handy
While brushing too soon after drinking red wine can increase porosity and sensitivity in your teeth, a gentle wipe of your teeth can remove surface staining. Keep some paper towels handy, and after you've had a glass just give your teeth a discrete once-over with a paper towel to keep the serious staining at bay!
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Though this might seem like it’s the go-to advice for everything, hydration really is a miracle cure. Better hydration equals more saliva, which helps to wash particles off the surface of your teeth. The astringent quality of tannin can make your mouth feel puckered, or even give you a cotton-mouth feeling, which reduces the production of saliva. The best way to counteract the drying is to keep sipping on water, or even drinking a full glass after every glass of wine. This will help stave off a pesky hangover, too!
Use Your Lip Balm
It’s not just the inside of your mouth that suffers dehydration, your lips are fallible, too! Red wine has a tendency of seeping into the cracks and corners of your lips, giving you that stained, puckered look. However, regular application of lip balm keeps your lips soft and moisturised while also creating a barrier between your lips and the wine, making it harder for the wine to seep into the cracks.