Today is National Truffle Day, a day to celebrate the sweet confection invented in France in 1895. While we caution against the sugar and fat contents of truffles, new research points to evidence of dental health benefits from chocolate. You read correctly; chocolate can be good for your teeth. Chicago dentist, Dr. Fondriest explains some of the ways this best-loved dessert can help your smile.
Chocolate Can Inhibit Plaque Formation
Cacao bean husk extract, or CBH extract, found in chocolate has shown signs of antibacterial qualities. In fact, CBH extract specifically targets streptococcus mutans. Also called S. mutans, streptococcus mutans cause plaque buildup, which reacts with sugar to form acid. The acid eats away the enamel and makes the tooth vulnerable to cavities. Unfortunately, most CBH extract is removed during chocolate manufacturing.
Ingredients in Dark Chocolate Disrupt Bacteria
Tannins are also beneficial substances for disrupting colonies of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria and plaque buildup not only make teeth vulnerable to decay but also present the risk of gum disease. Untreated plaque buildup along the gum line may infect the gum tissue resulting in gingivitis. Tannins are mostly found in dark chocolate, which also includes flavonoids and phenols. Antioxidants from flavonoids and phenols may protect against cancer and heart disease.
Chocolate Contains Enamel Strengthening Substances
Cacao powder used to make chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid thought to strengthen the tooth’s enamel. The tooth’s shield against bacteria and decay, enamel is composed almost entirely out of minerals. Since it has no living tissues, the body cannot reproduce enamel. A commonly used treatment, fluoride supplements strengthen the mineral composition of tooth enamel, but recent studies show that theobromine may be even more efficient for remineralization.
Beware of Sugar Content in Chocolate
Of course, it is always important to eat sweets, including chocolate, in moderation. Although chocolate contains some of these teeth benefiting substances, it is also a source of sugar and empty calories, which are harmful to your health. Note that most of these beneficial substances are found more in dark chocolate than milk chocolate, and avoid snacking on sweets throughout the day.
At Lake Forest Dental Arts, we encourage our patients to contact us with questions about how to improve their dental health with alternative methods. To schedule an appointment at our Chicago dentist office, contact Lake Forest Dental Arts at (847) 234-0517. We serve patients from Grayslake, Barrington, Lake Forest, Winnetka, Highland Park, North Shore, and Chicago.