It’s true, the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” But the great observer of life was not a great observer of dental health. And Holiday Season is probably the time when the largest number of people throughout the world celebrate with a bit of the “bubbly.” What most people don’t realize is that overindulgence in Champagne comes at a price to our dental health, and it’s a price many of us can’t afford to pay. Just a little knowledge about this delightful beverage can help us avoid teeth issues during Holiday Season. Being aware of the amount of sugar and carbolic acid that is present in Champagne can help us avoid overindulgence in what many of us use to ring in the Holiday Season. And taking a few preventive measures can also mitigate the detrimental effects of Champagne and other foods and drinks to help us maintain great dental health throughout the year.
Sugar Content in Champagne
As you pick up your Champagne from the store, be aware of what the label tells you about its sugar content. Everyone knows that the amount of sugar we consume has a direct correlation to dental caries, or cavities, as they are commonly called. Overconsumption of sugar is one of the main reasons that tooth decay is so prevalent in many countries. On the other hand, sugar is sometimes hard to avoid because it is a hidden ingredient in so many of our foods and drinks.
But the amount of sugar in a flute of Champagne is relatively easy to gauge. In fact, a glance at the label on the bottle can quickly tell us how much-added sugar is inside if we know how to decipher the language. Here’s a list of Champagne labels and the amount of added sugar they indicate:
- Brut Zero or Brut Nature contain almost no added sugar, and it is sweetened with the Champagne grapes alone.
- Extra Brut Champagnes usually contain about a quarter-teaspoon of added sugar per flute.
- Brut means a Champagne that contains about a half-teaspoon of added sugar.
- An Extra Dry label indicates three-quarters of a teaspoon of added sugar per flute.
- And Dry means a full teaspoon of sugar per flute.
- Demi-Sec Champagne will contain a teaspoon-and-a-half of added sugar per flute.
- And Doux means about two teaspoons of sugar per flute.
Carbonic Acid in Champagne
Part of the reason we enjoy Champagne so much is the sparkling freshness and zest that comes from its bubbles. They tickle our noses and increase our enjoyment, making Champagne the ideal wine for celebrations. But just as in soft drinks, those bubbles can spell trouble for our tooth enamel. The yeast used in the Champagne fermentation process breaks the sugars in the grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide molecules, which dissolve into carbonic acid, the same acid found in soft drinks.
It is common knowledge that soft drinks and other carbonated beverages can negatively impact both the appearance of our teeth and our dental health. This is because overexposure to carbonic acid can weaken the enamel that covers the softer dentin layer of our teeth. This enamel is responsible for preventing decay from reaching the dentin layer, and the dentin layer is also where stains lodge, making our teeth appear darker over time. When the enamel is weakened by carbonic acid, cavities and stains are much more likely. And the enamel also imparts the sparkling, shiny characteristics we associate with a healthy smile.
Protecting Teeth on Holiday Season and Throughout the Year
There are several things we can do to mitigate the effects of drinking Champagne on Holiday Season. Each of them will help maintain a healthy smile, not only on the first day of the New Year but also throughout the year.
- Choose your Champagne, and all food and drinks wisely. Reading labels can inform our decisions and help us avoid sugars, acids, and other unhealthy ingredients. This can be the most important step we can take because, when it comes to our teeth, prevention is always more effective and less expensive than treatment.
- Choose a higher quality Champagne and drink less of it. This advice also applies to all the food and drinks we choose. Higher quality foods and drinks usually get their flavor and texture from natural ingredients. It is only when the quality is low that added sugars and chemicals are needed to make our foods and drinks palatable.
- Drink water after you indulge in Champagne. Although simple, drinking water can seem counter-intuitive when we are bombarded with advertising for “healthy drinks.” If we drink water after we eat or drink other things, it can help our mouth return to its normal, healthy balance. And remember that flavored, carbonated, and “enhanced” waters are usually less healthy than simple, purified water.
- Chew gum. This advice can also seem counter-intuitive because so many gums contain high amounts of sugar. But the sugar dissolves quickly and continuing to chew the gum after the sugar is gone protects teeth by helping to rub away the remnants of sugars and acids we consume along with our foods and drinks. More importantly, chewing gum enhances saliva production, and saliva is the most effective tooth protector we know of. It quickly repairs the damage done by both sugar and carbonic acid.
- Don’t indulge often throughout the day. One of the main causes of excess decay is eating or drinking too many times. If we do this, the saliva just doesn’t have enough time to repair the damage done with each snack or sugary drink.
- Brush often. This prescription is so simple that we often overlook its importance. Many people think that brushing once or twice a day is sufficient, but in reality, brushing after each meal is more effective.
- Don’t overindulge. This brings us back to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s pronouncement, but by now, we know that too much Champagne is just not right.
In conclusion, it’s easy to see how overindulgence in Champagne on Holiday Season can cause dental problems, but by increasing our awareness of its detrimental effects and the strategies we can use to overcome them, it’s possible to have a healthy smile all year long.