Are You at Risk for 'Prosecco Smile'?

Too much prosecco could damage those pearly whites. (Photo: raccoon/Shutterstock)

"That stuff will rot your teeth."

How often did you hear that as a kid when you were drinking soda? That warning is being sounded again, but this time, it's not about soda. It's about prosecco, the super popular Italian sparkling wine that contains residual sugar. Add that sugar together with the acid and the alcohol in the wine, and it's a combination that can cause tooth decay.

That decay has been given the name "prosecco smile," according to The Independent. Since women tend to drink more prosecco than men, they're in greater danger of getting this unwanted result. Signs of prosecco smile include the teeth coming out of the gums, indicated by a white line just below the gum line that will be soft. If you see that white line when you smile, it indicates tooth decay has begun.

Because prosecco tends to be on the sweeter side, it goes down easy. It's also inexpensive, and people often freely drink several glasses within a short period of time. The sparkling wine's popularity is adding to the increase in consumption, too. In 2016, Britons drank over 40 million liters of the sparkling wine, up 34 percent from the previous year. Ninety Plus Cellars reports that in the same year, U.S. imports of prosecco rose by 31 percent.

Of course, prosecco isn't the only drink that can give you tooth decay. Over consumption of other sugary, carbonated and non-carbonated drinks, including soda, ice tea, sports drinks and juice, can cause the teeth to come out of the gums. Drinking fewer of these drinks, and drinking through a straw, can lessen the risk of tooth decay.

Know your prosecco sweetness

extra dry prosecco
Don't be confused by the 'extra dry' labeling on sparkling wines. Extra dry sparkling wine contains between 12 to 17 grams of sugar per liter. (Photo: Lenscap Photography/Shutterstock)

Most people aren't going to drink prosecco through a straw. Drinking less may seem like the only way to avoid prosecco smile, but there's another option: When you do drink prosecco, choose brut.

The way sweetness is labeled on sparkling wine — whether it's Champagne, prosecco or cava — can be confusing to consumers. It may seem like extra dry sparkling wine would have the least amount of sugar, but an extra dry bubbly will contain between 12 to 17 grams of sugar per liter.

If you do the math, there are about 33 ounces in a liter, and a Champagne flute — the most common wine glassware for serving prosecco — holds about 6 ounces. You'll get about five glasses of prosecco out of a liter and somewhere between 2.5 and 3 grams of sugar per glass.

Prosecco is generally made in brut, extra dry or dry styles. Brut has the least amount of sugar of the three styles, between 0 and 12 grams of sugar per liter. Dry has the highest sugar contact, between 17 and 32 grams per liter.

If you're looking to cut back on the tooth damaging effects of prosecco, choose a brut. Most of the time, it simply takes looking on the label — sometimes on the front or sometimes on the small print on the back — to determine the sweetness. Some of the brands you'll see most often on the store shelf like La Marca, Ruffino and Bolla are extra dry. Mionetto has both an extra dry and a brut.

With prosecco's popularity, most wine stores have a wide variety to chose from. Next time you're choosing your bubbly and you plan on indulging than more than just a glass or two, a brut will be the best bet for your teeth.