February 14, 2018

How Dark Chocolate Affects Our Oral Health

chocolate

Dark chocolate may actually help your teeth.

Most people know that sugary sweets can be bad for teeth. However, dentists are rethinking their advice when it comes to chocolate. It turns out, chocolate may not be so hard on teeth, after all. Dark chocolate, that is.

Why the change of tack, you ask? Well, several dental blogs cite recent studies that support the idea that dark chocolate could help prevent cavities. In addition, dentists and researchers say this not-so-sweet treat may even help fight plaque and tooth decay.

Dark Chocolate is Getting a Better Rap

It’s true: across the Web, dentists are coming out in favor of dark chocolate as a kind of “superfood” for oral health.

In his blog, dentist Mark Burhenne, DDS, writes that, “Compounds in chocolate may be more effective at fighting decay than fluoride.”

“Compounds in chocolate may be more effective at fighting decay than fluoride.”

What’s more, “Researchers are predicting that one day, [a] compound found in chocolate…will be used in mouthwashes and toothpaste,” Burhenne writes.

What Makes Dark Chocolate So Special?

When it comes to sweets, dark chocolate may be in a class by itself. That’s because there are several things that help set this confection apart from the competition.

For one, a substance in cocoa bean husk (CBH) has an antibacterial effect, which helps to offset the effects of sugar. Writer Paul Fassa, over at realfarmacy.com, explains: “Researchers at Tulane University discovered that cocoa powder contains a powerful extract that’s an effective cavity fighter.”

The study compared fluoride toothpaste side-by-side against a toothpaste that contained a naturally occurring cacao extract called theobromine. This bitter alkaloid occurs in chocolate as well as other foods. Tealeaves, the cola nut, and a number of other items also contain this substance.

Other healthful effects of chocolate include the following:

  • CBH helps harden tooth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay
  • Polyphenols found in chocolate help limit oral bacteria, neutralize the microorganisms and keep some bacteria from turning sugar and starches to tooth-harming acids
  • A flavonoid compound called epicatechin found in dark chocolate may help slow tooth decay
  • Tannins, which give dark chocolate a bitter taste and dark color, help stop bacteria from clinging to teeth
  • Dark chocolate can contain up to four times the level of antioxidants found in green tea; these molecules help keep your body healthy on a cellular level

Here’s How You Can Benefit from Eating Chocolate

According to Dr. Burhenne, “Eating 3-4 oz of chocolate a day is a great way to take advantage of this wonder compound and lower your chance of getting cavities.”

Eating dark chocolate doesn't give you a pass on basic dental care.

Eating dark chocolate doesn’t give you a pass on basic dental care.

To get the most benefit, Burhenne recommends chewing on cocoa nibs, a practice he admits most people would find unpleasant. The second best choice? Eat organic dark chocolate with less than 8 grams of sugar in each serving.

Just be sure to carry on with your regular oral hygiene practices, as well. While chocolate may help you in your quest for good oral health, there’s nothing like regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups to keep a happy, health smile on your face.

Read Next: Dental Care Routine

Sources:

Chocolate: A Superfood for Your Teeth; by Mark Burhenne, DDS; https://askthedentist.com/chocolate-good-for-teeth/

Chocolate Toothpaste is Better for Your Teeth Than Fluoride; by Paul Fassa; https://realfarmacy.com/chocolate-toothpaste-fluoride/

Is dark chocolate good for your teeth? by Redmond Dental Group; http://www.redmonddentalgroup.com/blog/2015/07/is-dark-chocolate-good-for-your-teeth

 

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