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30 May 2018

Prosecco and teeth - what’s the deal?

At the end of last summer, the national newspapers suddenly filled with dental stories that related to a sparkling drink that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years.

The light fizzy taste of a glass of prosecco on a warm day is a delight that many of us enjoy but at what cost to our teeth? An article in The Irish Times said that Ireland’s growing taste for the sparkling wine could be contributing to increased risk of dental decay. Robin Foyle, who is president of The Irish Dental Association said that ‘the combination of carbonation, sweetness and alcohol in prosecco has the potential to cause tooth sensitivity initially, leading later to erosion as the enamel of the tooth is depleted. Often, where erosion is caused by drinks, this occurs at the front of the teeth, whereas food-related decay occurs at the back of the mouth.’ Prosecco is even said to be more risky for teeth than champagne because of it’s increased level of sweetness.

Interestingly, the ‘prosecco plot’ thickened when, in response to national articles in the UK such as this Guardian piece, regarding the risks associated with prosecco, a number of Italian officials (Italy is the birth place of prosecco) were not too pleased. After flurries of articles were released, Maurizio Martina, the agriculture minister of Italy, tweeted “Dear Guardian, tell the truth — prosecco makes British people smile, too! Stop fake news, please.” Luca Zaia, president of Veneto, the region that is Italy’s largest prosecco producer, said, “It’s nonsense — like saying that Sacher torte causes a tummy ache.”

So what should you believe? As dentists we have a particular concern for the health of teeth and gums and also know the risks associated with high levels of sugar, especially when consumed frequently. As a sweetened, sparkling wine, prosecco has a ‘triple whammy’ effect when it comes to dental decay as all three pose a risk.
However, we also believe that personal responsibility and discretion does have a part to play. We would advise anyone that does enjoy a glass of prosecco with friends during a summer’s eve, to stick to the recommended alcohol intake and also try to drink any fizzy or alcoholic drinks with food. It also goes without saying that everyone should brush their teeth before going to bed, particularly after an evening drinking a few glasses of fizz!

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