It sounds too good to be true. Can chocolate actually be good for your smile? It's not like we needed another reason to indulge in this super food! We already know that chocolate is full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that can cause cancer and aging. So eating dark chocolate can protect you from aging and many types of diseases. Dark chocolate helps control your blood sugar and has a low glycemic index protecting you from type 2 diabetes. Dark chocolate can help lower your blood pressure and improve blood flow making it good for your heart. It also improves blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive function and reducing your risk of stroke. Phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the chemical that makes you happy by encouraging your brain to release endorphins, is also found in dark chocolate. All of these things make dark chocolate good for your brain, heart, mood, and health.
Chocolate also contains theobromine, a bitter powder that can actually help harden tooth enamel. Much like fluoride this helps harden the outer layer of your teeth, making them less susceptible to decay. This is also the chemical in chocolate that can be lethal or toxic to dogs and pets, because they metabolize theobromine more slowly than humans.
Another interesting benefit that dark chocolate has to your smile is that it acts like an antibacterial compound. The bacteria that causes decay in your mouth is streptococcus mutans. The metabolic by product of strep mutans is acid, which eats away at your tooth enamel causing decay and cavities. The antioxidants in dark chocolate prevent the bacteria from producing acids and the cocoa butter coats your teeth reducing the accumulation of plaque.
Dark chocolate also helps your smile because of its antioxidants properties. Because chocolate has a lot of antioxidants it helps by reducing inflammation in your body. Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is an inflammation in the gums which has been related to heart disease and low birth weight babies.
Just like anything else, care must be taken to avoid excessive consumption. Chocolate is still very high in fat and sugar. The darker the chocolate the less sugar it has, but even dark chocolate has some sugar in it.
It is still imperative to have good home care and oral hygeine, by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day to effectively remove plaque. Also floss once a day to ensure you get the area between your teeth as clean as possible (toothbrushes cannot clean this area). The American Dental Association also recommends that you visit your dentist twice a year (more in specific cases of gum disease) for a check up and cleaning to ensure optimal dental health.
So, while eating chocolate is good for your mouth, teeth and smile, as well as your heart, immune system and mood, moderation is key.
To maintain a healthy mouth the ADA recommends:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Clean between your teeth once a day (floss)
- Eat a healthy diet and limit snacks
- Visit your dentist regularly
source: Fit Day/ Fitday.com "6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate"
source: Howstuffworks.com "dark chocolate is good for your teeth, really!"
source: ADA American Dental Association