This may first appear as a silly question to ask your dentist in Chapel Hill. Popular opinion would answer it with a resounding, “Yes, chocolate is bad for your teeth. Obviously.” However, our Chapel Hill dental office has a slightly different position when it comes to chocolate and your oral health.
For years you’ve been hearing dentists talk about avoiding sweets or enjoying them in moderation since they tend to wreak havoc on your teeth. While still mostly true, recent research has suggested that dark chocolate, specifically, may defy this outdated rule. In fact, studies conducted in the United States, England, and Japan are changing the way the world views dark chocolate.
When we eat anything that has a high sugar content, including dark chocolate’s counterpart milk chocolate, that sugar is left to hang around on teeth. The bacteria in the mouth love this and start to feed on the sugars. What happens next is where the trouble begins. The feeding bacteria produce an acidic byproduct. This acid, if not neutralized or removed, is what causes tooth enamel to break down and leaves teeth at risk for decay and cavities. However, ingredients and compounds found in dark chocolate don’t allow this to occur, which makes it an a-ok treat in our book.
If we eat a piece of dark chocolate, we’re still exposing our teeth to the sugar content. However, the compounds found in the cocoa bean husk, which is a primary ingredient in dark chocolate, help counteract the damaging effects of sugar. These special compounds fight off both the bacteria that would normally feed on the sugar and produce acid as well as any plaque. In fact, some studies suggest that the compounds found in dark chocolate may be more efficient at defending against decay than fluoride. However, more research is needed to test this theory.
While we’d love to be able to tell you eating all types of chocolate is beneficial for your oral health, it’s just not true. These studies that support the health benefits of chocolate are dedicated specifically to dark chocolate. So before you load up on your favorite candy bars, try to make the switch to organic, dark chocolate for the best protection.
Following a well balanced diet of fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy is also important for not only oral health, but whole body health too. But the good news is that we now have a delicious and healthy option for dessert or quick sweet tooth fixes.
To maintain optimal oral health, don’t forget to visit our dental office in Chapel Hill twice a year and properly brush and floss your teeth at home.