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Are chocolates bad for teeth?
Chocolate is appreciated all year long, enjoyed on their own or at the end of a meal along with other sweet treats. They also make a great gift on special occasions like a birthday, Valentine’s day and during the Holiday season.
But does it damage your teeth?
The answer is yes and no. Chocolate contains sugar and sugar helps bacteria to grow. Sugar turns bacteria into acid with a risk of damaging the teeth enamel, causing tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. With studies showing a correlation between teeth and the brain, the consequences could be even more devastating.
In addition tannins contained in chocolate cause tooth stain.
However there are benefits in eating chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains natural chemicals called polyphenols. These polyphenols are antioxidants that reduce the growth of bacteria causing bad breath and prevent some sugar from becoming acid (1).
Chocolate also contains flavonoids. These natural substances have an antimicrobial activity that helps slowing tooth decay (2).
Some dentists even suggest that chocolate is better than fluoride in fighting tooth decay. Coco beans contain a compound called CBH and this compound fights bacteria and plaque (3).
In addition, studies have proven that chocolate has positive effect on our health and mood. It is a source of antioxidants fighting against free radicals (4). It might reduce cardiovascular disease (5), cholesterol (6), and helps cognitive functions.
So what are the best ways to enjoy eating a chocolate while protecting your dental health?
Eating the right chocolate is a priority. A dark chocolate has more antioxidants, fiber and proteins than a milk or a white chocolate. Those with the highest content of cocoa (over 70 or 80%) contain the most flavanols. In addition, milk and white chocolate contain much more sugar.
Chocolates should also be eaten in moderation. It contains calories and can contribute to weight gain. However moderate consumption increases metabolism, helping burn fat and reduce the blood glucose levels. Experts recommend eating an once (28g) of dark chocolate a day. If eaten 20 minutes before a meal, it reduces cravings, helping in the weight loss process.
Finally, to keep white teeth, you should brush your teeth within 30 minutes after eating chocolate in order to reduce the stain risk. You can also rinse or drink after eating it.
(1) Preventive Applications of Polyphenols in Dentistry—A Review
Jasmin Flemming,1 Clara Theres Meyer-Probst,1,* Karl Speer,2 Isabelle Kölling-Speer,2 Christian Hannig,1 and Matthias Hannig3
(2) The Effects of Flavonoids on Oral Health By Kim J. Spaccarotella, PhD and Ernest O. Afoakwah, BS
(3) American Dental Association (ADA)¬†2013 Annual Session pitted fluoride toothpaste against a new toothpaste that contains the naturally-occurring cacao extract theobromine.
(4) From Cocoa to Chocolate: The Impact of Processing on In Vitro Antioxidant Activity and the Effects of Chocolate on Antioxidant Markers In Vivo
Carla D. Di Mattia,1 Giampiero Sacchetti,1,* Dino Mastrocola,1 and Mauro Serafini1
(5) Cocoa, Blood Pressure, and Vascular Function
Valeria Ludovici,1,2 Jens Barthelmes,1 Matthias P. Nägele,1 Frank Enseleit,1 Claudio Ferri,2 Andreas J. Flammer,1 Frank Ruschitzka,1 and Isabella Sudano1,*
(6) Reduction in blood pressure and serum lipids by lycosome formulation of dark chocolate and lycopene in prehypertension
Ivan M Petyaev,1 Pavel Y Dovgalevsky,2 Natalia E Chalyk,2 Victor Klochkov,2 and Nigel H Kyle1