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Dentist under crossfire after “Prosecco smile” warning

A UK dentist who warned that drinking Prosecco too often can lead to receding gingivae and tooth loss has been met with indignation by Italians. (Photograph: ADS Portrait/Shutterstock; Tom Carvalho)
Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

Wed. 6. September 2017


LONDON, UK/ROME, Italy: That the consumption of sweet, carbonated and alcoholic drinks—which are all main characteristics of Prosecco—lead to tooth damage is a well-known fact. However, a statement by a British dentist claiming that excessive consumption of the sparkling wine from the Veneto region of Italy leads to the so-called “Prosecco smile” has provoked a response by the Italian government.

As reported by the Daily Mail, Dr Mervyn Druian, International President of the Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity for 2017 and a dentist at the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry, warned: “Women especially enjoy Prosecco but unlike wine, which you often have with a meal, it is very easy to just keep sipping Prosecco and have a few glasses without noticing. It is acidic and it has sugar in it so, while a few glasses are fine, if you drink too much of it you are going to have a problem.”

“The signs of Prosecco smile are where the teeth come out of the gum. It starts with a white line just below the gum, which if you probe it is a little bit soft, and that is the beginning of tooth decay which can lead to fillings and dental work,” he added.

Italians were taken aback by these assertions, with the indignation extending all the way to government level. Italy’s agriculture minister Maurizio Martina dismissed Druian’s statement and deemed it as post-factual. He took to Twitter saying, “Prosecco makes British people smile too! Stop fake news please.”

Italian Venetist politician Luca Zaia also aired his opinion on Twitter, writing: “The British accuse the Prosecco of ruining your teeth, but they know that where there is Prosecco there is a smile.”

“In the Brexit era, London can do nothing more than try to limit imports from the EU and increase the consumption, in this case, of English sparkling wines. Prosecco has become one of the symbols of the difficult future relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe”, wrote Milan-based daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Indeed, the UK is one of the largest Prosecco importers in Europe. According to a 2016 report by HM Revenue and Customs, Britain’s growing thirst for Prosecco has resulted in an 80 per cent rise in sparkling wine sales in the last five years. While this figure is on the rise, the British Dental Association blames sugary drinks in general for poor oral health among Britons and not just Prosecco consumption alone, stating that it had no specific agenda against prosecco.

“News of British dentists declaring war on Italian prosecco has been greatly exaggerated. We have delivered the same message to buyers of American soft drinks, French champagne or home-grown smoothies. Oral health matters, and just because it doesn’t come in a can, doesn’t mean drinks taken to excess can’t harm your oral health,” said Prof. Damien Walmsley, the scientific adviser for the British Dental Association.

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