How to combat ‘Prosecco teeth’ – ask Decanter

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Dentists in the UK have warned of higher cases of ‘Prosecco teeth’, linking tooth decay to the surge in popularity for sparkling wine. Decanter.com gets expert advice ways to limit the damage, without cutting Prosecco or Champagne out of your life completely...

At a glance: How to limit ‘Prosecco teeth’

· Drink less but better

· Drink with food, such as cheese, to reduce acid damage

· Take breaks and don’t brush your teeth for at least one hour after drinking

· Drink your sparkling wine cocktail with a straw

Sparkling wines have been causing damage to our teeth, according to top dentists, warning against ‘Prosecco teeth’; a condition where the tooth starts to come away from the gum, caused by the sugar, acidity and carbonation in the popular wine.

‘Prosecco like other wines has a low pH i.e. (3.25) and this acidity can damage both the dentine and enamel in teeth,’ Professor Damien Walmsley of the British Dental Association told Decanter.com.

‘In addition, Prosecco contains sugar that feeds the harmful bacteria in your mouth, forming acids, and making the teeth more prone to decay.’

How does it compare to other drinks?

The amount of residual sugar in wine is a hot topic covered by Decanter magazine’s September 2017 issue. Credit: Mike Prior / Decanter.
The amount of residual sugar in wine is a hot topic covered by Decanter magazine’s September 2017 issue. Credit: Mike Prior / Decanter.

‘Every time you drink anything containing sugar, these acids attack the teeth and start to soften and dissolve the enamel.’

‘These acid attacks can last for an hour after drinking Prosecco (or any food or drink containing sugars) before the natural alkaline compounds in your saliva cause the enamel to remineralise and harden again.’

You could choose a low dosage sparkling wine, like brut nature Champagne, to minimise the amount of sugar consumed. Brut nature Prosecco also exists, although it’s still a small part of the market.

Whilst high acidity wines cause some damage, like Chablis, the bubbles in sparkling wines can increase the harmful effects of the acidity.

‘Coca Cola, and other carbonated soft drinks, also pose a risk to teeth since they are also acidic,’ Walmsley added.

How to limit the damage

Drinking less but better quality, such as Prosecco DOCG, is one option. Credit: Cath Lowe / Decanter
Drinking less but better quality, such as Prosecco DOCG, is one option. Credit: Cath Lowe / Decanter

One obvious rule would be to cut down and drink better quality. But, Walmsley said that it’s important to think about when and how you drink, not just how much.

‘Your teeth are most at risk from prolonged exposure to acidic drinks – ie continuously sipping Prosecco over an evening means the teeth are continually being bathed in acid and sugar and the enamel doesn’t have time to recover.’

‘However, if it is drunk during a meal the acidic effect is diluted and the enamel has time to recover.

‘Also a piece of cheese may help neutralise the acidic effect.’

Drinking through a straw may reduce the effect ‘but I’m not sure if your Prosecco drinkers would necessarily favour this’, Walmsley told Decanter.com.

‘Finally, people drinking Prosecco (or other fizzy drinks), should also wait for at least an hour before brushing their teeth to give the enamel time to harden up again.’

Translated by ICY

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