You read right! Dark chocolate helps prevent tooth decay.
Chocolate has another reason to make you smile. Dark chocolate, that is. Ingredients found in cocoa beans have been known to have an array of health benefits, but many ingredients and compounds in the plant can also help combat tooth decay. And because dark chocolate is less processed than milk chocolate and white chocolate, there is a higher concentration of these teeth friendly ingredients.
What is Tooth Decay?
Plaque is a build-up of bacteria in your mouth that have collected on your teeth. Tooth decay occurs when this bacteria begins consuming sugars that are in your mouth. The by-product of the this consumption is an acid that wears away at the enamel of your teeth. As this breakdown progresses, the tooth becomes susceptible to infection, cavities, and decay.
Several of the ingredients and compounds in dark chocolate can help reduce or neutralize the bacteria in your mouth before it can begin consuming the sugars. This can help your teeth from becoming weak, an infection from taking hold, and tooth decay from forming.
Why Dark Chocolate?
Dark chocolate is less processed than milk chocolate (which contains more sugar and milk in order to make it sweeter) and white chocolate (which is simply the fat of the cocoa bean). It contains more of the cocoa solids and the various ingredients that are beneficial to your health, such as:
- Polyphenols: Helps combat bad breath and bacteria. They help reduce the bacteria in your mouth that turn sugar into the enamel weakening acid.
- Tannins: They help reduce bacteria in the mouth by preventing the bacteria from adhering to the enamel. They contribute to chocolate’s bitter flavor and can increase the risk of staining your teeth.
- Theobromine: Helps harden the enamel of your teeth.
- Antioxidants: They can help reduce your chances of periodontal disease. Many foods and beverages are high in antioxidants, such as green tea, berries, and beans. Dark chocolate can have up to four times as many antioxidants as green tea.
- Epicatechin: A flavonoid that can help reduce tooth decay. It can also help reduce cholesterol and blood clots while helping with clogged arteries.
Avoid the sweeter chocolates, with no more than 6-8 grams of sugar per serving. Dark chocolate that is at least 70% or above tends to be the best option. Raw chocolate or chocolate with a higher percentage is better, though more bitterness is to be expected. Eating between 3-4oz of dark chocolate a day can help you avoid the cavities and tooth decay.
Smile! You can eat chocolate!
More research is being done on the remarkable effects of cocoa and dark chocolate. Researchers are attempting to utilize many of the ingredients and compounds in chocolate for mouthwashes and toothpastes.
In the meantime, you can supplement your diet with 3-4oz of dark chocolate a day guilt-free. Remember that chocolate can be high in calories, so moderation is key. Because tooth infection can still happen, it’s important to continue to practice good eating, brushing, and flossing habits. This will help you achieve the best possible oral health. And be sure to keep regular check-ups with your dentist at Advanced Dentistry South Florida.