Odontologists from the University of Bordeaux were curious if regular wine tasting affects one’s teeth colour permanently. This is probably not a strange thing for dentists to wonder about and especially not those working in one of the world’s most famous regions for red wine. So, they compared the teeth of “regular tasters” with “non wine tasters” in a pilot study. The good news for all of us “regular wine tasters” is that they found no differences in teeth colour between the regular tasters and the unregular tasters. The study was published in The Journal of Wine Research. Judging from the surnames all the researchers seem to be French, which could explain the interesting choice of words occasionally used in the article. Even though it is Winetech’s aim to summarize scientific articles that can potentially improve grape and wine production in the SA wine industry, we do occasionally come across studies of a humoristic nature that we feel might provide for some interesting and entertaining reading material. This is such an article.
How the participants were recruited
A Google forms survey was sent by email to members of the Association des Œnologues de Bordeaux who work in a 70 km radius around Bordeaux. This is an association for everyone who studied Oenology at the University of Bordeaux and who work in the wine industry. The form comprised various questions including age, “the existence of a spouse” and “consent to be examined orally.” From the completed questionnaires 31 tasters were selected. Exclusion criteria included smoking habits of people in the past three years (it is not clear what level of smoking was deemed acceptable), people who drink more than eight coloured drinks a day (tea, coffee, etc.), people with false teeth, people with “intrinsic discolouration of incisors” e.g., teeth that are discoloured because of trauma, and finally everyone with an invalid email address (for the obvious reason that the email never reached the intended participant).
These 31 tasters’ two front teeth were compared with the two front teeth of the “general population” who did not consume wine in a professional manner. The source population for this general population was “patients followed in a dental office in downtown Bordeaux.”
The average age of all participants was about 40 years old but with individuals as young as 21 and as old as 70. The idea was to compare two populations of similar age and social status. Initially the researchers wanted to use the wine tasters’ spouses as a control group, but “a large number of the tasters refused to include their spouses.” Others didn’t have spouses, hence the stalking at the dentist’s office in downtown Bordeaux.
In the end the sizes of both groups of individuals were determined by positive responses in the questionnaire “and the availability of the spectrophotometer.” One cannot help but wonder what the effect of the non-availability of the spectrophotometer, the main device used to measure the colour of the teeth, would have been on group sizes.
The colour of the maxillary central incisors (teeth 11 and 21) was measured at three points: the collar, the centre, the free edge with the available spectrophotometer. Analysis of the oral data concluded that if you taste wine regularly, with your own original teeth, then you are probably not worse off compared to people who don’t taste wine as part of their jobs. However, some in vitro (meaning in the test tube and not in the mouth) studies revealed that wine, more than other coloured beverages, can affect the resins of certain prosthetic restorations. Ceramic crowns seem to be resistant to wine stains fortunately. If you are planning on bleaching your teeth for that Hollywood actor pearly white smile, the researchers recommend to temporarily stop wine tastings as tooth whitening seems to be a risky practice for people who taste wine regularly. Wine stains bleached teeth more easily than unbleached teeth.
So, what does colour your teeth?
In this experiment, where smokers, caffeine junkies, people with low socioeconomic status and spouses were excluded, age was the main reason for teeth to become less white.
François Deleplanque, Noella Rajonson, Elise Cazaubon, Sébastien Marque & Johan Samot (2021). Influence of wine tasting on the color of teeth amongst professional wine tasters of gironde, France: a pilot study, Journal of Wine Research, DOI: 10.1080/09571264.2021.1940901
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