To some this is old news, but it is always good to remind everyone about this fascinating topic: the healthy benefits of chocolate. It’s been found in multiple studies that chocolate is actually good for your teeth, as surprising as that sounds. Let’s get the usual stereotype out of the way first: yes chocolate has a lot of sugars, but chocolate is one of the snack foods that contributes the least to tooth decay. In order for sugar to turn into acid, it needs to stay in the mouth for a certain amount of time so that the bacteria in your mouth can ferment it. But if you’ve noticed, chocolate doesn’t stay in your mouth for very long, and not because it is so delicious, but because it melts. Chocolate is made of natural fat content which causes it to melt quickly and clear the mouth faster. Thus the sugar in chocolate doesn’t become as acidic as say a hard candy, which stays in the mouth for extended periods of time.
So we’ve established that chocolate isn’t as harmful to the teeth as it is believed, but would you believe that chocolate is also helpful in preventing plaque and cavities? Japanese studies have found that the husk of the cocoa bean has an anti-effect on oral bacteria. The husk has a chemical, though they are not sure which, that can remove plaque and other negative agitators in the mouth. Unfortunately the husk is removed before chocolate is made, but there are some advocates for putting the husks back into chocolate production.
Another fascinating aspect of chocolate is that it contains tannin, a polyphenol that is found to be beneficial to teeth. The tannins conflict with the harmful effects of many oral bacteria, thereby helping to prevent the formation of cavities. And in another study, the cocoa butter in chocolate was shown to have coated the tooth, preventing plaque from forming and building up.
As an extra note, dark chocolate is considered much healthier than other types of chocolate. Dark chocolate uses a lot more of the cocoa bean in its processing; you’ll see a high cocoa percentage on a bar of dark chocolate compared to most other chocolates. This means that the healthy ingredients in the cocoa bean are transferred more fully to dark chocolate, and these healthy ingredients are what can help keep your teeth in good shape.
So in the end, chocolate isn’t as bad as most people believe, and is surprisingly much better for you than most confections on the market today. But don’t go thinking you can eat chocolate all the time now. Just like everything else, chocolate is best in moderation. Too much chocolate will still cause plaque and dental caries (along with obesity). And remember, brushing your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly will always be the best thing for your teeth, so always make sure to do that.