This article originally appeared on MIMI.
After stumbling home from a summer happy hour, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and was immediately horrified. The four glasses of red wine I drank turned my teeth a burgundy red, it was a disaster. I brushed and brushed, but the damage was done. Everyone I had interacted with that night had seen my wine-stained teeth—so embarrassing. What's a red-wine obsessed girl to do? Am I supposed to order vodka sodas on dates? Drink beer at the office holiday party? Have white wine on a cold winter's night? In the wise and timeless words of Cher Horowitz "I don't think so." In honor of my love of red wine, I've made it my mission to find the best tricks to keeping my teeth their utmost white, while still enjoying my glass of Cabernet.
According to New York City Cosmetic Dentist, Lauren Becker, the best way to avoid a red smile is to make sure your teeth are plaque free. "Routine cleanings at your dentist office in conjunction with brushing and flossing (best with an electric toothbrush, twice a day) are surefire ways to keep your teeth sparkling, no matter what you drink or eat. When you know you'll be drinking red wine, try to brush no more than an hour before indulging. Brushing too close to drinking wine can alter the taste (think: OJ in the morning after brushing!), but brushing too soon afterwards can cause the acidic wine to penetrate the pores in your teeth and can actually erode the enamel," Dr. Becker advised.
Naturally, I immediately went out and bought an electric toothbrush, the ISSA Mini ($119; net-a-porter.com), and one hour before drinking I brushed. Then, in the name of research, I split a bottle of Cabernet with my roommate. A few hours later, I looked in the mirror and noticed that my teeth were still white—the red wine hadn't stained them the way it did before.
I decided to also test some hacks for when brushing before or after isn't a possibility. Here's what I found:
Drink sparkling water.
I used this trick on a first date and made sure to order a glass of Pinot noir AND a sparkling water. I may have aggressively swished the sparkling water around like mouthwash at first, but I'm happy to say this trick worked. The hardest part is remembering to drink the sparkling water the whole time, but if you do, this can also help avoid a red-wine hangover.
Drink wine out of a straw.
This idea comes courtesy of the Real Housewives. I chose to test this on my couch and found that while using a straw worked, I felt a little ridiculous drinking this way. I would say this is one of the least practical hacks, but could be useful during a pregame with close friends or a night in with a significant other who promises to love you no matter how you look.
Suck on a lime after drinking wine.
While effective in removing wine stains, I'm not sure this should be your new go -to. According to Dr. Becker, "Limes, like wine, are also very acidic and can erode away the outer enamel layer of your teeth. Definitely a DON'T!"
Pairing wine with cheese.
This hardly felt like a trick since wine and cheese are a dream team, but eating cheese while drinking red wine actually did help to prevent stains. Dr. Becker explains how cheese is even more beneficial than just keeping teeth white, "Cheese is high in calcium (especially the harder ones) and calcium helps strengthen the teeth. It also helps heal the pores of the tooth because of its waxy consistency, and can act as a defense barrier from the red wine staining." Proving just how perfect wine and cheese truly are together.
Wine teeth wipes.
These convenient little wipes are magical. They come in a little pack that can fit easily into a purse—perfect for dating scenarios or special occasions. Dr. Becker says to watch out though; these wipes can be a bit abrasive. Sometimes even a cocktail napkin can get the job done in a bind.