In laboratory studies, dental students at Adelaide University simulated the kind of short, multiple exposures to wine acid normally experienced by wine tasters.
The results, published in the Australian Dental Journal, show that just 10 one-minute episodes of wine tasting are enough to cause the softening of tooth enamel, or acid wear, making the teeth vulnerable within just a few minutes of testing the wine.
The research has renewed calls for professional wine tasters to protect their teeth.
"With professional wine tasters and winemakers tasting anywhere from 20 to 150 wines a day, and wine judges tasting up to 200 wines a day during wine shows, this represents a significant risk to their oral health," said Dr Sarbin Ranjitkar, the study’s author.
"Our results reinforce the need for people working in the profession to take early, preventative measures, in consultation with their dentists, to minimise the risks to their teeth.”
Associate Professor Sue Bastian of Adelaide’s school of agriculture, food and wine, said lectures on wine erosion have raised its awareness among winemaking students.
"Typically, the night before a wine tasting session, it is best to apply remineralising agents in the form of calcium, phosphate and fluoride to coat and protect the teeth,” she said.
“The morning of a wine tasting, we advise not brushing the teeth or, if that's too unpalatable, chewing gum to stimulate saliva, which is naturally protective.
"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.”