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Research warns of acid risks for wine tasters

27 March 2015

Research warns of acid risks for wine tasters

Researchers from the University of Adelaide’s School of Dentistry have found that wine tasters are especially at risk of erosion due to the levels of acid in wine. Examining kind of short, multiple exposures that would be common to wine tasters, the results found that just 10 one-minute episodes of wine tasting is enough to cause erosion of tooth enamel that is commonly known as acid wear. The affected teeth become vulnerable to mechanical wear within a few minutes of wine acid exposure.

Dr Sarbin Ranjitkar, corresponding author from the Centre for Orofacial Research and Learning, commented: “With professional wine tasters and winemakers tasting anywhere from 20 to 150 wines per day, and wine judges tasting up to 200 wines per day during wine shows, this represents a significant risk to their oral health. 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.”

This research adds to the already-established practice of preventative measures by staff and students in the University’s winemaking programs. Associate Professor Sue Bastian, from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, says that lectures on this potential occupational hazard for wine tasters have certainly raised awareness of the issue. She said: “It's extremely important to us to be teaching what we consider to be best practice, and this is informed by the research of our Dental School. 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.  Cleaning with a brush when teeth are soft runs the risk of damaging the enamel.”

This study has been conducted by Bachelor of Dental Surgery students Sharon Kwek and Mustafa Mian in collaboration with Dr Zonghan Xie (School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide) and Dr Colin Hall (Mawson Institute, University of South Australia). This work, which builds on research into tooth erosion by Dr Diane Hunt and Dr John McIntyre at the University of Adelaide, has been supported with funding from the Australian Dental Research Foundation.

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