There's nothing like a glass (or three) of petite sirah to kick off a festive affair — until someone tells a joke and you smile to reveal a mouthful of dark, purple-stained teeth.
So I've come up with some ways to avoid that wine-tattooed grin and still enjoy your favorite reds.
DRINK WHITE WINE OR SELTZER: Just like that stain on your carpet, swirling a little white wine or seltzer in your mouth between glasses of red can help to sop up stains.
USE LIP GLOSS: Forget about lipstick when going to a dinner party as it will only come off when you eat and drink. A much better idea is to use a lightly colored lip gloss and reapply with each glass of red. Since many glosses are petroleum based, they will act as a barrier between your lips and those stain-causing tannins.
BRUSH BEFORE DINNER: Red wine can actually stain the plaque on your teeth, so one way to avoid this is a solid brushing before dinner.
WIPE AWAY THE TANNINS: Some people simply use a tissue to wipe off the tannins after sipping. There are some neat products on the market like these Wine Wipes that have added ingredients to clean up your smile.
EAT CHEESE: This is my favorite solution, because it's a great excuse to indulge! Cheese helps in coating teeth with calcium to prevent discoloration. However, note that all cheese is not created equal. Hard cheeses are best for fighting stains.
ENJOY SOME CRUDITES: Cauliflower, broccoli, and celery contain lots of fiber, which can act as a natural scrub for teeth. In addition, these crunchy vegetables increase the level of saliva produced to help naturally wash away stains, not to mention they're a far-healthier choice than most other party appetizers.
DON'T BRUSH AFTER DRINKING: Dentists advise against brushing immediately after drinking red wine because the high acidity of the wine renders your teeth sensitive to abrasion. Brush too soon, and you risk damaging the enamel. Instead, try one of the other great methods listed above to keep your smile white.
CARRY A WHITENING PEN: You could drink your red wine out of a straw, but that's just tacky. A great way to avoid having red-stained teeth is to carry a travel-size whitening pen or product. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and apply over stained teeth. The peroxide should bubble away those stains in minutes. However, keep in mind that bleaching your teeth can actually make them MORE porous and susceptible to staining, so this method is only suggested for AFTER you've consumed your last glass of the night.