Is Dark Chocolate Good For Your Teeth?
You have probably always been told that candy and other sweets will rot your teeth and cause cavities. This is true for the most part, but did you know that dark chocolate has cavity-fighting properties?
Why do sweets cause cavities?
Cavities are caused by harmful bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans. To cause cavities, these pathogens must stick to the teeth in the form of a biofilm called plaque. In order to produce plaque, S. mutans require carbohydrates, including sugars, to create this sticky film. Therefore, eating sticky candies or sipping sugary drinks over a long duration can increase your risk of getting cavities, since the sugar stays on your teeth longer.
Is dark chocolate really good for your teeth?
Dark chocolate should consist of 70% or more cocoa, without the milk and butter contained in milk chocolate. This ensures that the chocolate is semi-sweet, or slightly bitter. The low sugar content makes dark chocolate less likely to cause cavities compared to other candy!
In addition, dark chocolate contains compounds called polyphenols which have been shown to protect your teeth against cavities! This is due to their interference with the ability of S. mutans to create plaque. Polyphenols are also found in coffee, green tea, and pomegranates.
Due to these properties, eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate (1-2 ounces a day) can be a great way to satisfy sweet cravings without contributing to tooth decay. It is still recommended to rinse or drink water shortly after consuming dark chocolate, in order to prevent sugars from sticking to your teeth.