It seems that no candy is actually “good for” your teeth. There are, however, candies that are “better than others”. So if you’re interested in the most mouth-friendly Easter basket, move to the section of the store that sells dark chocolate. Pure dark chocolate with no sugar added which are now often found in the form of “cacao nibs” or “raw chocolate”. The flavor is sharp and bitter and may take some time to get used to, but once you do, you’re open to a whole host of health benefits!
What are the benefits of pure chocolate on the teeth?
- Fights plaque: The polyphenols in cacao beans reduce the formation of biofilm and production of acid, according to the NIH. In other words, pure cacao has an antibacterial compound that fights plaque and an ability to prevent sugar from turning into damaging acids. This, in turn, stops cavities from forming.
- Fights tooth decay: In addition, CBH, a compound in chocolate, is effective at fighting tooth decay due to its ability to harden tooth enamel and may soon be proven more effective at doing so than fluoride. Mark Burhenne, DDS mentions in his blog that he predicts CBH to one day be incorporated in toothpastes and mouthwashes but we are still a few years away from approval.
- Reduces inflammation: Chocolate is able to reduce inflammation, so it could help those that suffer from periodontal disease and gum swelling.
What kinds of chocolate do I buy?
Since raw chocolate isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (cup of chocolate?), work your way up by starting with chocolates that are at least 70% cocoa. Ghirardelli and Lindt offer anywhere from 72 – 90% cacao, making them better choices for your teeth. Since the sugar count is much lower in bars with higher percentages of cocoa, they are better choices for your health as well.
This is not to say that eating chocolate all day is the answer to pesky dental issues. Incorporating small amounts of pure, raw chocolate can certainly be helpful but there is a limit to which is it good for your health. Consume in moderation and enjoy the benefits of this superfood, which far surpass the health of just your mouth.
If you want to include a broader variety of candies in that basket without completely ruining your (or the recipient’s) mouth, consider one or two pieces of sugar-free candy and candy that has nuts to break up some plaque. Avoid sour candy, lollipops, and sticky candies like Tootsie Rolls. Finally, wait 30 minutes before brushing to avoid pushing the bad stuff deeper into your teeth and gums.
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