Many people may have heard that dark chocolate is good for you, but they might not have heard about how good it can be for your teeth. In fact, there is a definite link between dark chocolate, teeth and the longterm health of your mouth.
What Makes Dark Chocolate Different?
With all the health claims made for dark chocolate, you would be forgiven for imagining this particular type of chocolate is imbued with some magical qualities not shared by other chocolates. In fact, dark chocolate is healthier than other types of chocolate because it is closest to the cocoa bean form.
That’s where all the great nutrients are found, and as chocolate becomes more refined and processed and has more ingredients added to it, its nutritional properties diminish.
It is best to look for dark chocolate bars that are at least 70 percent cocoa, and if you can go higher, that is even better. Dark chocolate already contains less sugar than most other types of chocolate, but if you are choosing between two similar chocolate bars with the same percent of cocoa, it is best to choose the one with less sugar.
Dark chocolate tastes bitter to some people, and it can be an acquired taste. Choosing the right chocolate bar for the best dental health should be balanced with making sure that you are choosing one that is palatable to you.
Another piece of good news about dark chocolate is that many people find small pieces of it more satisfying than other types of chocolate, so you do not need to eat as much to get the same feeling of satiety.
Antioxidants and Dark Chocolate
The antioxidants in dark chocolate work on bacteria called oral streptococci that attacks tooth enamel. More specifically, dark chocolate contains three different kinds of antioxidants, and each one improves dental health in a different way.
These are tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids. Tannins help keep bacteria from adhering to teeth. Polyphenols reduce the incidence of bad-breath causing microorganisms as well as tooth decay and gum disease. Flavonoids also reduce decay.
Antioxidants also provide a number of other health benefits, and there is a direct link between dental health and overall health. Therefore, these general health benefits mean healthier teeth as well.
A compound in dark chocolate known as CBH strengthens tooth enamel. In its pure form, it is not yet available because it has only been tested on animals so far. However, it is possible to get CBH from ingesting dark chocolate.
Some dentists believe that CBH is even more effective than fluoride at protecting teeth.
Dark chocolate is sometime unpalatable for children, but if parents can get them used to the flavor, they can also benefit from the dark chocolate, dental health connection.
Furthermore, cultivating an appreciation for dark chocolate in children may serve to reduce their palate for sweeter candy that is damaging to teeth.
Dark chocolate is only one tool in the fight against tooth decay. Regular dental checkups, brushing and flossing are all critical to keeping teeth in good condition.
However, the important of food choices cannot be underestimated, and in addition to the dark chocolate dental health link, foods such as carrots, celery and yogurt can be good natural cleaners and help fight tooth decay. You can also discuss more good dental health habits with your dentist.
Dr. Neela Patel is a cosmetic dentist who provides comprehensive dental care to her patients. Her mission is to provide one-on-one care to each patient and to use modern techniques to achieve healthy, long-lasting and pleasing results. For more information about Dr. Patel and the Texas Center of Dental Excellence please visit our website.