We all know that eating candy doesn’t typically mix well with keeping teeth healthy – but did you know that dark chocolate may actually be good for your teeth?
When you eat dark chocolate you’re actually consuming a variety of natural phytochemicals with powerful cavity-fighting and health-promoting properties, including:
Polyphenols are a class of naturally occurring chemicals that can limit oral bacteria. They are also able to neutralize the microorganisms that cause bad breath and prevent bacteria from turning sugar and starches into acid. Polyphenols have great promise for their apparent anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects as well as their ability to reduce hypertension and stroke.
Antioxidants are a group of molecules that keep your body healthy on a cellular level and chocolate contains a lot of them. In fact, dark chocolate can contain up to four times the level found in green tea. High amounts of antioxidants in saliva have been shown to fight periodontal disease.
Flavonoids, a group of plant-based antioxidants, have been shown to slow tooth decay. Further, a recent study by researchers at the University of California showed that a particular falvonoid called epicatechin displays a remarkable ability to reduce cholesterol, blood clots and clogged arteries.
Tannins are plant compounds that are found in many of the foods we eat. They’re also what give dark chocolate its slightly bitter taste and dark color. Tannins have been shown to help stop bacteria from sticking to teeth because their molecules bind to bacteria before plaque has time to form.
Chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa for most of these potential benefits to your teeth and body, and should be eaten in moderation, regardless of its health promise. And of course, we always recommend that you brush and floss after you enjoy any sweet obsession.