It’s American Chocolate week which means that chocolate will get more than its usual share of attention. But good news for you chocolate lovers, dark chocolate may actually help your oral health. Crazy, right? A dentist told you to eat chocolate! Here is what you need to know about the dental benefits of dark chocolate.
Recent studies have shown that chocolate is a superfood, fighting cavities, plaque, and tooth decay found in the mouth. However, these dental benefits aren’t spread across all types of chocolate (sorry milk chocolate lovers!). Rather, the dental benefits are only found to stem from real, dark chocolate — not the sweet stuff you find in all of your favorite candies. The Dentist explains that compounds in chocolate may be more effective at fighting decay than fluoride!
“Real” chocolate is a good source of polyphenols, natural chemicals that reduce oral bacteria. Polyphenols also act as neutralizers on microorganisms that trigger bad breath. Furthermore, polyphenols have been shown to prevent some bacteria from turning sugar and starches into acid, protecting your teeth from the decay-causing threats acids usually pose.
Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in your mouth morphs sugar into acid, which begins to weaken the tooth’s surface and can cause cavities. Compounds within the cocoa bean husk have an antibacterial effect and can fight plaque. This being said, chocolate is a less harmful dessert option than other popular treats because of these antibacterial agents offsetting high sugar levels.
While we already know that eating a Reese’s cup won’t benefit our oral health, are all dark chocolate options good? Not all dark chocolate is created equal. For example, if you are really eating chocolate for the sake of your dental health, you should reach for cacao nibs. However, these are often too bitter for many people’s likings.
Up next would be choosing dark chocolate that has less than 8 grams of sugar per serving — and organic, if possible. Chocolate is a high-calorie food, so be weary of the ingredients added in the chocolate you are consuming. The less processed the food, the more cavity-fighting antioxidants you’ll benefit from.
Tip: While children more than likely won’t enjoy the bitter taste of dark chocolate, try giving it to them in small amounts, or adding it to their diets in fun ways — like in a smoothie!
While we wish we could say that eating chocolate is the only thing you need to do to maintain a healthy smile, that is just not the case. For a healthy smile, it is important that you are following a dental hygiene routine that is helping keep your teeth clean and free of harmful bacteria. Mayo Clinic lists the dental care basics you should be following for your oral health:
Parents, you are not alone in your journey to empower your children with healthy food habits and behaviors. Reach out to our team for help and guidance. We can help reinforce what you are teaching at home in our office during our exams with your children. Contact our friendly team at Li’l Sunshine Smiles today by calling us at 813-576-0200 to schedule a wellness visit and exam for your child. We are here for you!