Red Wine Woes: ‘GMA’ Tries Products Marketed to Clean Wine Stains From Teeth

By ABC News

May 30, 2014 10:19am

ABC News’ Becky Worley reports:

Call it Malbec mouth or tannin teeth, red wine can make your pearly whites look grey, or worse – purple. But now a new product called Wine Wipes says it can remove the stains in a snap.

To find out I invite a willing group of tipplers for a glass of wine at Bin 38 in San Francisco. We start with a Pinot.

Wine is practically perfect in its composition for staining teeth. The acid etches the enamel-think of sandpaper on a piece of wood. The pigment from the grapes hits that etched surface and then the tannins from the seeds’ stems and skins of the grape act as a binding agent affixing the pigment to the perfectly primed teeth.

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Some people are more prone to it and some wines, namely those with more tannins, can stain more aggressively.

I ask Lauren McKennon and Jaqueline Ow, my first testers, to try the Wine Wipes. The packet of circular cloths comes either in a compact (15 for $7.95) that has a handy mirror or in individual packets (12 for $6.95). The company lists the active ingredients in Wine Wipes as hydrogen peroxide, sodium bicarbonate, glycerin, calcium, potassium, and they tout a subtle orange flavor that won’t interfere with the taste of that second glass of wine.

Each tester grabs a moist wipe and gently rubs their teeth. Both notice a difference and agree that the wipes did the trick, removing purple sediment the wine left on their teeth and polishing off the grey tint left by the glass of Pinot. With a little extra effort they can get the cloth into the spaces and gum lines to remove little bits of sediment that can stay in the teeth, but both testers think this is a job best done in the bathroom, not out in the open.

The success of the Wine Wipes is good news for those whose teeth are particularly affected by red wine, but for people who might like a more natural, cheaper or readily available solution, we tried a few different options.

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Jenn Hagen swishes with seltzer — a well-loved stain remover. Her assessment is that it did remove the sediment bits in the spaces between her teeth, but the overall grey tint of the wine remained. A swipe with the Wine Wipes removes the tint.

One popular belief is that crunchy vegetables and fruits will rid your mouth of wine stains so Kelsey Kennick munches an apple after her vino and the results are mixed. She still sees a few bits of purple wine sediment in her gums and between her teeth, but the apple has removed much of the grey tint from the wine. Perhaps a combination of seltzer swishing and apple eating would be the perfect solution.

One popular belief is that cheese can help protect your teeth from wine. The idea is that hard, waxy cheeses like Manchego or Parmesan create a barrier on the enamel, preventing that etching and binding that happens when wine hits your choppers. We ask Merrill Gillespie to try the cheese option. She munches cheese only on the right side of her mouth, leaving one side uncoated by the yummy fromage.

Merrill is a mom of three (including 6-month old twins) so we made sure she had a relaxing wine and cheese afternoon, but when it came time to inspect her teeth she thought the cheese side looked a little more discolored than the side where she had carefully avoided chewing.  Keep in mind that this is only one person’s anecdotal experience, so if you are justifying your cheese intake at parties to protect your teeth, I say go with it; the more cheese the better.

Alexandra Dallago is our final tester and she tries an alternative tooth polishing cloth, called Tooth Wipes (10 individual cloths for $5). She puts the wipe over her finger (it’s like a finger puppet). Again it does a good job at removing the wine stains and debris. Alexandra remarks that this is a bathroom-only solution as it’s a little awkward as she jabs her finger into her mouth. I ask if the minty flavor of this wipe would alter the taste of her wine if she went back for seconds. With a quick swish, she has another sip and reports back that the taste was fine and the mint flavor was so subtle it didn’t really interfere.

So if you are a regular victim of tannin teeth, Wine Wipes or Tooth Wipes might be a good addition to your purse, but for others of us, soda water, apples and … sure why not, cheese may be all we need.

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