Page last updated at 23:07 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 00:07 UK

White wines 'bad for the teeth'

Woman drinking white wine
Wines vary in acidity, but whites tend to be worse

Enjoying a glass of white wine on a frequent basis can damage the teeth, something many wine makers and tasters will know first-hand, experts say.

Pale plonk packs an acidic punch that erodes enamel far more than red wine, Nutrition Research reports.

It is not the wine's vintage, origin or alcohol that are key but its pH and duration of contact with the teeth.

Eating cheese at the same time could counter the effects, because it is rich in calcium, the German authors say.

It is the calcium in teeth that the wine attacks.

If you're going to have a glass of wine do so with your meal and leave a break of at least 30 minutes afterwards before you brush your teeth and go to bed
Professor Damien Walmsley of the British Dental Association

In the lab, adult teeth soaked in white wine for a day had a loss of both calcium and another mineral called phosphorus to depths of up to 60 micrometers in the enamel surface, which the researchers say is significant.

Riesling wines tended to have the greatest impact, having the lowest pH.

A "kinder" tooth choice would be a rich red like a Rioja or a Pinot noir, the Johannes Gutenberg University team found.

Power of saliva

Even if people brush their teeth after a night of drinking, over the years repeated exposure could take its toll, say Brita Willershausen and her colleagues.

Indeed, excessive brushing might make matters worse and lead to further loss of enamel.

But they said: "The tradition of enjoying different cheeses for dessert, or in combination with drinking wine, might have a beneficial effect on preventing dental erosion since cheeses contain calcium in a high concentration."

This helps neutralise and boost the remineralising power of saliva to halt the acid attack.

But eating strawberries while supping on your vino or mixing sparkling whites with acid fruit juice to make a bucks fizz may spell trouble because this only adds to the acid attack.

Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, said: "The ability of acidic foods and drinks to erode tooth enamel is well understood, and white wine is recognised as being more erosive than red.

"But it's the way you consume it that's all important. If you're going to have a glass of wine do so with your meal and leave a break of at least 30 minutes afterwards before you brush your teeth and go to bed.

"Consuming wine alongside food, rather than on its own, means the saliva you produce as you chew helps to neutralise its acidity and limits its erosive potential.

"And leaving time before brushing teeth gives the enamel a chance to recover from the acid attack and makes it less susceptible to being brushed away."



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