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White wine stains your teeth too

Off-colour gnashers: the wages of sin

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Dental boffins in New York have carried out groundbreaking research indicating that white wine, counterintuitively, stains your teeth.

No, really. The new research was carried out by Dr Mark Wolff, prof at the New York University College of Dentistry, and Cristina M Dobrescu, a third-year student.

The two dentists, rather than stain up human volunteers' gnashers, carried out their experiments on the teeth of some cows - "whose surface closely resembles that of human teeth", the profs say.

Immersing teeth in white wine for one hour "is similar to the effect of sipping the wine with dinner", according to Dr Wolff. It seems that he and Dobrescu did this with several sets of cow choppers - immersed them in white wine, that is - followed by an hour's worth of black tea.

The other six got an initial ration of water rather than wine before their tea, and then both sets were checked for darkening using spectrophotometer readings. The University statement isn't entirely clear, but it seems probable that the teeth were no longer attached to cows during the experiments.

According to NYU:

[Wolff and Dobrescu] 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.

“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,” says Wolff.

Red wine does stain your teeth worse than white, apparently, but don't expect to get away with pearly gnashers just by sticking to a nice Chablis. Professor Wolff, however, has reassuring advice.

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.

The quite literally biting-edge research was presented at a dentistry conference in Miami this week. ®

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