No Prosecco For Me, It Is Too Acidic, And Sweet… And I would rather keep my teeth!

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Dr Jelley talks about the effect Prosecco and hidden sugars are having on the teeth. 

By Dr. Jaye Jelley (GDC 6280) 

In recent years, Prosecco has become increasingly popular with Brits. In 2009, just 2 million bottles were sold. Last year, Brits alone drank a third of all the Prosecco produced in the world! However, though we can all agree that Prosecco is lovely, it is one of the many things that contain hidden sugars. Dentists now have a term for the damage caused by drinking too much Prosecco – “Prosecco Mouth”. Patients are presenting with decay and the gums are starting to come away from the teeth, caused by the acidity of the popular wine. 

Prosecco is often considered to be a good choice of drink particularly if you are dieting, as it is considered to be low in sugar. Unfortunately, people repeatedly confuse low sugar and no sugar. One glass of Prosecco contains just less than a teaspoon of sugar, which may not seem that drastic, but one grain of sugar does the same damage to your teeth as a table spoon does. And with people drinking a few glasses of the increasingly popular fizz several times a week, the number of times you are exposing your teeth to acid soon adds up and the effect on teeth is detrimental. 

This is true for many other products. Supermarket shelves are lined with products claiming to be ‘low sugar’, ‘low fat’ and ‘low sodium’, however if you delved further, you’d probably find that the cookie being advertised as low in sugar, is in fact lower in sugar than the usual cookie sold by that manufacturer – as opposed to your daily recommended intake.   

“No Added Sugar” Myth

No added sugar is another term which is often confused with being sugar free. Parents often give children fruit juices labelled as having no added sugar, thinking this is a good substitute to other juices and squashes, when in reality the effect on teeth is the same. As far as our teeth are concerned, sugar is sugar, whether the sugar is naturally occurring – which is commonly used in squashes to give it its fruit flavour – or whether it is added. It still attacks the teeth for a whole hour after each consumption. If children are given several cups of squash or fruit juice throughout the day, in between meals etc., you can imagine the number of times the teeth are under attack from the sugar, therefore increasing the chances of decay developing.

The New Sugar Tax

As part of a new government initiative to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, particularly by children, a tax on sugary drinks has been introduced. This is thought to help battle child obesity and tooth decay, both of which have become growing problems. 

Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions of children aged 5 to 9 years, with £30 million of the NHS budget being spent on hospital extractions for children under the age of 18. One quarter of adults and 40 per cent of teenagers between the ages of 11 and 18 get their total recommended sugar intake from their drinks alone. 

The image above shows some popular drink choices and the number of tea spoons of sugar in each. Milk shakes are often considered a healthier choice of drink in comparison to fizzy drinks such as Coca Cola, but you can see that the can of coke has 8.5 teaspoons of sugar, which is less than the Frijj Strawberry Milkshake, which has 11 teaspoons of sugar. Ribena, which is targeted at children, contains more sugar than the Redbull, which is marketed as an energy drink. If you want to start making better choices for your teeth, water would be a perfect choice! Or at least limit any drinks containing sugar to meal times only.

“As far as our teeth are concerned, sugar is sugar, whether it is naturally occurring or added. It still attacks the teeth for a whole hour after each consumption.” 

There is also a new scheme being promoted by the NHS to encourage parents/guardians to limit their children to having only two snacks a day outside of meal times, each snack having a maximum of 100 calories. In regards to oral health it would be idyllic to stick to just the three meals a day as this reduces the number of acid attacks the teeth are exposed to. However, if your child is hungry in between meals, vegetables and water are always the best choice. And if you are going to have that glass of Prosecco, for the sake of your teeth have it with your dinner!  

Don’t Be Fooled… 

Some manufacturers disguise sugar in their products so it is not as apparent how much sugar you are consuming. Sugar can appear on the packaging in many different forms, so here are some to be aware of:

Agave nectar, brown sugar, cane crystal, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, glucose, honey, lactose, sucrose, maltose, malt syrup, fruit juice concentrates and many many more, are all sugars.  

Some common food and drinks mistakenly considered being low in sugar are: 

• Breakfast cereals

• Shop bought sauces and soups

• Frozen yoghurts 

• Smoothies 

• Tinned baked beans

• Reduced fat yoghurts


Dr Jaye Jelley heads the team at The Dentist @ Tupsley, an independent and modern dental practice based in Hereford. The clinic offers a full range of dental treatments, including oral surgery.

The Dentist @ Tupsley

133 Quarry Road, Hereford HR1 1SX

Tel: 01432 343 158

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