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Dear Dr. Vinny,

When I drink red wine, I often get the dreaded "red wine teeth," which is an embarrassing condition to have at a party when I intend on talking, smiling, or otherwise showing my newly wine-stained chompers. And is there any way to reduce this affliction without hampering my enjoyment of reds?

—Will, Augusta, Ga.

Dear Will,

First and foremost, you really should talk to a dentist about what would be best for your long-term tooth care. But I have some tips for tooth stains in a social situation, and I promise none of them involve drinking wine through a straw.

If you are particularly prone to the purple-toothed grin, consider drinking white or bubbly instead of (or in addition to) reds. Sneaking into a bathroom to brush isn't always a good idea, because a mouth fresh with wine is often also full of acid, and if you brush too soon, you might risk damaging your teeth and possibly making your staining problems worse. Eating a snack and drinking water will help your mouth's natural acid balance to return. If you're really in a pinch, there are some products in the market that are like portable miniature tooth polishers, and they fit easily into your pocket. Look for words like "smile refresher" or "oral brush-ups."

—Dr. Vinny

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