ADELAIDE, Australia: Wine lovers may seriously harm their teeth if they do not take preventative measures against erosion, new research from the University of Adelaide suggests. According to an article published in the latest edition of the Australian Dental Journal, demineralisation occurs as early as 10 minutes after enamel has been exposed to the organic acids of the beverage.

 

This places wine-tasters, for example, at increased risk of tooth wear, the researchers said. Previous research only found a softening effect in teeth exposed to wine after 1 hour.

Professional tasters usually test up to 150 wines per day, and wine judges even more. With wine-tasting, the beverage is retained in the mouth for up to 60 seconds before it is spat out.

In order to assess the demineralisation during wine-tasting, the team simulated the conditions of the process in a laboratory, exposing extracted third molars repeatedly to white wine and artificial saliva. After 1 and 10 minutes, a nano-scratch test was conducted and the result was an increasing scratch depth. Surface roughness of the enamel also increased by almost 200 per cent.

Reflecting on the findings, the researchers recommended that professionals take early preventative measures, including the application of remineralisation agents, such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride, to minimise the risks of erosion. Chewing gum and skipping toothbrushing the morning before the wine-tasting are additional measures that could lessen the occupational hazard, they said in the report.

“After a wine tasting, the teeth are likely to be much softer, so we recommend rinsing with water, and when it comes time to clean the teeth, just putting some toothpaste on your finger and cleaning with that,” remarked Associate Professor Sue Bastian from the university’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, which also teaches wine-making, about the results. “Cleaning with a brush when teeth are soft runs the risk of damaging the enamel.”

With pH values of 3 and 4, the acidity of wine is comparable to most soft drinks, which, owing to their high concentration of organic acids, are reported to be the main cause of the increase in tooth wear around the globe, particularly among children. Most professional wine organisations, however, currently do not recommend any special precautions for their members.