We’ve got some fantastic news for all of our patients and neighbors with an active sweet tooth! It may come as a surprise, but the team at our St. Joseph dental office is telling everyone to go ahead and eat chocolate — for your smile’s sake! But before you head out to buy a dozen of your candy bars, keep in mind that not just any chocolate will do.
Recent studies conducted by researchers in the United States, England, and Japan show a strong correlation between dark chocolate and its ability to ward off decay, cavities, and problem causing plaque. There’s even some evidence to support the idea that dark chocolate may be just as effective, or perhaps more-so, at fighting off cavities as fluoride. However, we’re not suggesting that you pass on your regular fluoride treatments. More research and testing is needed before we can make an absolute claim as to effectiveness of dark chocolate.
It’s not necessarily the dark chocolate itself that has all the oral health benefits. In fact, most credit is being given to compounds found within dark chocolate, or more specifically the cocoa bean husk. All of the beneficial compounds found in dark chocolate are incredibly unique in that they have the ability to fight off both bacteria and plaque. There are even talks of one of these compounds, CBH, becoming an active ingredient in some dental products such as mouthwash and toothpaste because of its benefits.
When we eat anything that contains a lot of sugar, we put our teeth at risk for decay and cavities. As we snack on these sweet treats, sugar gets left behind in the mouth. But it’s not the sugar itself that causes the problem, it’s the bacteria that feed on the sugar. As bacteria fuel up on leftover sugar particles, they also release acid as a byproduct. This acid wears away the protective enamel, leaving teeth exposed to decay. What’s so unique and interesting about dark chocolate is that the bacteria and plaque fighting compounds counteract this process by eliminating bacteria from the beginning.
It’s important to remember that these studies and beneficial oral health claims are limited to dark chocolate and do not include milk chocolate or white chocolate. Even so, not all dark chocolate is created equal either. Try to find dark chocolate with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving. If you can get your hands on organic dark chocolate, that’s even better. Besides having oral health benefits, dark chocolate is also loaded with antioxidants and can be beneficial to overall health too, so don’t shy away from snacking on it.