UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, dentists are not fans of candy because the sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health! To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest chocolate could be harmful to your oral health.
All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal
Determining how processed chocolate is can be difficult, so knowing a little about how it is made can be helpful. The most important ingredient in chocolate is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You will get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but it is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste is not as strong.
If you would rather stick with the chocolate you are used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it is milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and has no cocoa solids, therefore it contains no beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain, at most, ten percent cocoa solids. The tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar, making milk chocolate an unhealthy option. However, dark chocolate is different.
The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, particularly kinds containing 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, has been deemed a “superfood.” That is because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants (specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins) and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to retain them. Another bonus is that dark chocolate does not contain much sugar!
Antioxidants have several benefits for overall health, but we will focus on their oral health applications. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Antioxidants play a crucial role in all of these by helping to stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protecting against cell mutation, and making it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.
Chocolate Still Is Not Everything
As sated before, this blog post is not a license to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still does not replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you!
Your healthy teeth are our pride and joy!