Why do some people’s teeth stain after drinking red wine—and how can you prevent it while enjoying a glass or two during the holidays?

The answer lies in understanding the relationship between the nature of wine and your tooth enamel, says Uchenna Akosa, a dentist who heads Rutgers University Health University Dental Associates.

“When you drink red wine, you’re encountering a triple threat to your teeth’s whiteness: anthocyanins, the pigments in grapes that give red wine its rich color; tannins, which help bind the pigment to your teeth; and the acidity found in wine, which etches your enamel, making it more porous and it easier for the stain to stick,” says Akosa.

“The strength of your enamel and how prone you are to plaque build-up is key to how much your teeth might stain.”

Here are Akosa’s tips for preventing wine teeth:

1 Brush before, but not immediately after, drinking: “Since plaque can make it look like your teeth are stained, you should brush your teeth 30 minutes before drinking, but not right after since toothpaste can cause more etching.”

2 Don’t drink white wine before red wine: “The extra acid in the white wine will exacerbate the staining.”

3 Schedule regular dental cleanings to keep your enamel in the best shape.

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