Burlingame Dental Arts in Portland, OR
Burlingame Dental Arts in Portland, OR

Another Look at Wine

added on: September 10, 2019

Early this year, Burlingame Dental Arts, your SW Portland kids dentists of choice, published a blog post on the antimicrobial properties of wine according to a new study finding that red wine may kill bacteria that cause cavities. Great news for wine drinkers!

Well, we just read another study examining the relationship between oral health and wine and unfortunately, the results are less rosy (or less… rosé?). 

A second glance reveals…

According to researchers, yes wine may take antibacterial action in your mouth, but the drawbacks might out-weigh the benefits. The problem starts where it often does when it comes to oral health– with sugar.


Alcohol, including wine, has sugar in it just by nature– sugar is part of what gives this time-tested beverage its intoxicating charm! Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities in your mouth, and when they eat sugar, these microorganisms release a metabolic byproduct that really harms your teeth: acid.

… And acid

Acids destroy tooth enamel— the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth. In doing so, they make teeth rougher to the tough, easier to stain, and more vulnerable to dental caries, or cavities. In addition to the bacterial metabolism of sugars in your mouth making acids, wine itself– in fact, alcoholic drinks as a whole– contains acid. So in effect, drinking wine attacks tooth enamel on two fronts: one from bacteria eating the sugar in the wine, and one from the drink itself. Twice as bad news.

But the wine glass isn’t quite half-empty

In wine’s defense, it has been documented in numerous studies as a cardiovascular helper, maintaining heart health when imbibed in moderation. And as more and more research supports the interconnected relationship between cardiovascular and oral health– in fact, oral and systemic health in general– this is nothing to shake a stick at. So how to get around the sticky detail of sugar and acidity harming enamel?

Suggested solutions

Researchers have a few suggestions for wine lovers who also value their smile. For starters, put fizzy beverages back on the shelf– avoid wine “coolers,” champagne, and other bubbly alcoholic drinks. The carbonation contributes to the acid levels that harm teeth. And definitely avoid any sugar or sweetened drinks, for instance, sangria is a wine drink with added fruit and sugar you may wish to decline if you are concerned about oral health. 

Finally, researchers suggest keeping a glass of water nearby and switching sips between your wine and water glasses; this rinses away sugars and acids before they have much chance to do harm.

Sorry for the bad news!

We at Burlingame Dental Arts do apologize for this dismal update on wine drinking! At this point you may be wringing your hands and thinking: What drinks are OK for my oral health? We’re so glad you asked. These mythical drinks that support oral health at all times of day in any quantity are: unsweetened herbal tea and water.

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

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