When the clock struck midnight and you rung in 2018, did you raise a glass of Champagne to the new year? If the buyer of the bubbly was on a budget, it’s likely that you were drinking Champagne’s cheaper sister, Prosecco. This Italian sparkling wine averages less than half the cost of a bottle of Champagne, which may be part of why its popularity has soared in recent years.
But before you fall in love with the world’s new favorite sparkling wine, there’s something you need to know: It’s terrible for your teeth.
How Prosecco Damages Teeth
When it comes to food and drink, there are two big red flags to look out for if you care about your oral health: Sugar content, and acidity.
Everyone has heard that sugar causes cavities. This is because when you eat foods with sugars in them, you’re not just feeding sugar to yourself — you’re also feeding sugar to the bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria consume sugar, and produce acid as a result. That acid can sap calcium and other minerals from teeth, weakening enamel. Your enamel is the only protective barrier between bacteria and the sensitive, living material of your teeth.
But the sugar in Prosecco — about one teaspoon per glass — isn’t the only danger the drink bears. Prosecco is highly acidic, with a pH of about 3.25. (For reference, that’s a lower pH than tomato juice, and about as acidic as most sodas.) The acidic environment that Prosecco creates in the mouth can accelerate the demineralization of teeth, increasing risk of cavities.
To demonstrate the risks, scientists at the Oral Health Foundation submerged human teeth in Prosecco for 14 days and monitored the damage. After the full two weeks, the teeth were chalky and crumbling. Of course, your teeth aren’t sitting in Prosecco for two straight weeks, but during the holidays, it’s common to sip on sparkling wine throughout long parties and dinners. And if America follows in the United Kingdom’s footsteps, where Prosecco consumption has doubled in just one year, this problem could become a year-round issue.
However, it’s also important to note that these values aren’t actually that different from other sparkling wines. Prosecco is getting the attention because it is growing in popularity.
Protecting Your Teeth From Prosecco
If New Year’s Eve is the only time of year you drink Prosecco, you probably have nothing to worry about. But if you find that you’re sipping the sweet, budget-friendly bubbly regularly, it’s important to be aware of the potential impact on your teeth. Prosecco and other sparkling wines are on par with Coca Cola in terms of damage to enamel, and a habit could lead to cavities.
Watching your sparkling wine consumption is key, but if you must drink the stuff, you can protect from some of the impact by rinsing directly after consumption. The acidity can make your enamel susceptible to damage if you perform a regular toothbrushing directly after drinking, but a gentle rinse with water can get that acid off your teeth before it has time to eat into your enamel.