But for professional wine tasters at least, rotting teeth can be a hidden occupational hazard of the job!
According to Dr Diane Hunt, Conservative Clinical Dentist at the University of Adelaide’s Dental Hospital, the acid in wine can erode tooth enamel. And for some people erosion of calcium and phosphate from enamel can be a problem when the pH of the fluid bathing their teeth falls below 4.5. This is why wine can potentially do some damage. Typically wine has pH levels from 3.2 to 3.8. Mature reds have the highest pH, but young whites and sparkling wines like Champagne can have pH levels as low as 2.8. Furry teeth can be a wine drinker’s friend by Judy Skatssoon, ABC Science 13 October 2004.
Her advice to professional wine tasters is not to brush their teeth the morning of a tasting. Apparently, leaving plaque on the teeth provides a protective film against erosion. The plaque should be removed after the tasting, but wine tasters should wait at least two hours before brushing, because the softened tooth surface is vulnerable to being brushed away.
Hunt says that the quantity and quality of saliva, which flushes away acids and forms a protective film known as a glycoprotein pellicle, is also key to protecting teeth. She recommends chewing sugar-free gum and drinking water to help stimulate saliva production. An application of fluoride gel the night before a tasting can also help.