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Dentists Warn That Wine Tasting Can Completely Fuck Up Your Teeth

A recent study published in the Australian Dental Journal suggests that just minutes of wine tasting—lookin' at you, Robert Parker—can significantly erode your choppers.
Photo via Flickr user Amit Gupta

Are my teeth all purple? Will you check?

It's no secret that after throwing back a few glasses of Merlot, one's teeth are stained with a Dimetapp-like hue for a few embarrassing minutes to follow. A grapey smile is something that we all seem to have decided we can live with, due to the fact that wine tastes nice, gets us drunk, and has an ever-growing list of purported health benefits.

READ: Drinking Wine Is Great for Burning Fat and Also Getting Drunk


But new research shows that it's not just about aesthetics: dentists warn that your teeth are actually being measurably damaged within just a few minutes of drinking wine.

A recent study published in the Australian Dental Journal suggests that professional wine tasters are likely to experienced some toothy unpleasantries due to the acidity of wine, which they must frequently swish around in their mouths before swallowing or spitting. (Tough life, right?) Researchers from the University of Adelaide found that after just ten one-minute episodes of wine tasting, tooth enamel was already showing signs of acid wear.

Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar, a corresponding author on the study from the UA School of Dentistry, said in a statement that teeth become "vulnerable to mechanical wear just within a few minutes of wine acid exposure." We're talking "wine erosion," people—it is the hot new thing to worry about if you're a rich person who has a vintage with every meal. (Attempts to Google-image close-ups of Robert Parker's teeth proved futile.)

Wine is naturally quite acidic, containing a whole grab bag of organic acids such as tartaric, maleic, lactic acid, and citric acid. This punch of acidic compounds can quickly demineralize teeth, weakening their surfaces and structure .

But while you might assume that more frequent tooth-brushing would be remedial, it's actually quite the opposite. Associate Professor Sue Bastian of UA's School of Agriculture, Food, and Wine has a surprisingly detailed set of dental care criteria for her winemaking students: She suggests that they apply calcium phosphate and fluoride to their teeth the night before a tasting, and actually abstain from brushing their teeth the morning of so that they have a kind of "coating." If they find the mouthfeel and bad breath associated with sweatery, unbrushed teeth unbearable, she says that chewing gum can help as well, since it stimulates saliva production.

READ: A Scientific Breakthrough Could Make Your Wine Into Hangover-Free Magic

"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," she says. "Cleaning with a brush when teeth are soft runs the risk of damaging the enamel."

On the plus side, fatty, savory snacks such as cheese and hummus are actually somewhat good for protecting tooth enamel in that they also increase levels of saliva, which helps to neutralize the acid from sugary beverages and alcohol.

There's some news that both professional winetasters and winos can use.