The Dental Science Behind the Delicious Pair!
The people of France know what’s up. Not only do they boast some of the world’s most beautiful cities and delicious cuisine, but one of their time-honored cultural customs is actually rooted in solid dental science. We’re talking about the old French tradition of pairing wine and cheese. Turns out, it’s actually better for your teeth if you eat cheese while you’re drinking wine. Who knew?
First things first—as a rule, drinking alcohol is pretty bad for your teeth. We’re not trying to scare you off your nightly bottle of craft brew or glass of Merlot, but evidence does show that the acidity in alcohol has erosive properties on your pearly whites. Tooth erosion means that the enamel on the teeth (the thin outer covering) is breaking down, which can lead to teeth sensitivity, cavities, cracks or chips, and other dental problems.
Mixed drinks are probably the worst for your teeth (all that added sugar!), but wine is a close second. Interestingly, white wine is more erosive than red wine, according to a 2009 study. (Another study found that Riesling was more erosive than sparkling wine).
And of course, red wine is well-known for being a staining agent—more than coffee, even. The darker the wine, the more likely it is to color your teeth, both temporarily and over time. This is because of the chromogens (dark pigments) contained in the wine.
But if you down a few slices of Brie alongside your bottle of Bordeaux, you’ll be adding some protection for your teeth. Why? Well, the high levels of calcium in cheese can counteract the damage the acidity is wreaking on your enamel. Authors of a 2009 study in the journal Nutrition Research wrote, “The tradition of enjoying different cheeses for dessert, or in combination with drinking wine, might have a beneficial effect on preventing dental erosion since cheeses contain calcium in a high concentration.”
So there you have it. All of those wine and cheese parties are now justified by science! The next time you have friends over, make sure you put out an assortment of cheeses next to the lineup of wine bottles—and don’t neglect to tell them that consuming them together is actually a protective action for their dental health. That is, if you can actually get them to listen to oral care tips during a party, of course.
Whether you opt to eat cheese with wine or not, remember to brush your teeth thoroughly after consuming wine or other alcohol. Experts say you should wait at least an hour before brushing, though, to allow the ph level of your mouth to return to normal. This ensures the enamel of your teeth has had adequate time to recover from the alcohol’s acidity, which makes it less likely that brushing will further erode it. The more you know!