Food

Sip, Savor and Smile: Sonoma County Dentist’s Guide to Enjoying Wine While Maintaining Dental Health

Written by Dr. Kasia Marelich Nov 9 • 4 minute read

Wine is frequently associated with celebrations, relaxation and fine dining. While this definitely applies to Sonoma County, wine is also a part of daily lives for many Sonoma locals, whether it be through their career, hobby, or just a daily glass of wine during dinner. A wine lover myself, I enjoy and appreciate the flavors contained in the glass of wine, however, I am also aware of the possible effects it can have on dental health. I’d like to share a few tips on how to enjoy wine while maintaining optimal dental health. 


Choose Wine Wisely

Not all wines are created equal when it comes to dental health - and their sugar content and level of acidity is what affects our teeth the most. Dry wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay, are better choices because they have lower sugar content than sweet wines like Riesling or Moscato. In addition, white wines tend to be more acidic than red wines. So wines like Riesling, while delicious, are high in sugar and acidity and therefore not your tooth’s best friend. Red wines are preferable as they are gentler on your tooth enamel due to lower acidity than the white wines. Merlot tends to be less acidic than Pinot Noir and Voigner less acidic than Sauvignon Blanc. A quick internet search will give you more specifics on which wines are most or least acidic - I find this chart very helpful. 

Sip and Savor

You may have seen my social media posts about not sipping on your beverages to reduce the amount of time your teeth are exposed to acids and allowing your mouth to neutralize. Well, the difficulty with wine is that you are supposed to sip and savor it. Unfortunately, the prolonged exposure allows the wine’s acidity to continually bathe your teeth, increasing the risk of enamel erosion (see Dr. Laura’s blog on erosion). So what can you do? Try not to swish your wine with every sip you take and limit swishing to just that first encounter with your glass. Allow some time between sips to let your saliva neutralize the acids. In addition, eating cheese with your wine also helps neutralize the acidity, protecting the enamel from erosion. What a treat!  


Hydrate

Did I say hydrate again? (see my blog about the importance of hydration) Staying hydrated is essential for your dental health, regardless of whether you are drinking wine or not.  Drinking water in between sips of wine can help rinse away some of the residual wine and reduce the risk of staining. Additionally, it aids in maintaining an adequate flow of saliva, which acts as a natural defense mechanism for your teeth. 


Avoid Brushing Immediately

Now that I told you all about the sugar and acid in the wine, you might be tempted to brush your teeth after enjoying a glass of wine to remove any sugar, staining or acidity. Don’t be so fast! It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. The acidity in wine can temporarily soften your enamel, and brushing too soon may actually cause damage instead of doing any good. Instead, rinse your mouth with water (yes, water again) and wait before brushing to keep your enamel safe.

  

Consider Sugarless Gum or Mints

Chewing sugarless gum, preferably one with Xylitol, can stimulate saliva production therefore neutralize acids and protect your teeth. After enjoying a glass of wine, pop a piece of gum or a mint. Some of my favorite brands are Spry, Epic and Pur. You can find them online or at some grocery stores.


Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Maintaining a diligent oral hygiene routine is the cornerstone of preserving dental health, even if you enjoy wine. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss regularly, and don’t skip your dental check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist can detect early signs of dental issues and provide guidance on maintaining a healthy smile. We utilize iTero Scanner for our annual Digital Health Scan which allows us to digitally compare your teeth with scans from previous years, detect changes early and therefore intervene before the damage is too big.


Enjoying a glass of wine can be a delightful experience, and you do not have to give it up to maintain good dental health. Remember, moderation and mindfulness are the keys to enjoying wine. So, cheers to radiant smiles and Sonoma County wine!

 

 


 

About the Author:

Dr. Kasia Marelich graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Mathematics and earned her dental degree from Tufts University of Dental Medicine in 2012. She completed a General Practice Residency at the VA in Palo Alto, CA and received her Fellowship with the Academy of General Dentistry in 2022. Her passion is preventative dentistry and clear aligner therapy. She aims to educate, inspire and empower her patients to achieve the healthy smile they deserve. She practices general dentistry in Santa Rosa, CA

 



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We are dedicated to excellence in family and cosmetic dentistry, specifically prevention, crown & bridge, veneers, implants and teeth whitening. Located in Santa Rosa, California, the office serves patients throughout Sonoma County including neighboring cities such as Healdsburg, Windsor, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park and Petaluma.


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