Some people would say that chocolate is an addiction. They wouldn’t be entirely incorrect: chocolate contains the chemicals tyramine and tryptophan, which the brain converts into the natural feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Thankfully, we are becoming more aware of chocolate’s health benefits so you don’t have to feel as guilty for indulging in the rich, sweet temptation. Research also suggests that chocolate may benefit your oral health, as well. Syosset dentist Dr. Kobak explains how eating chocolate may help you fight cavities.
It’s Not Just the Sugar
Chocolate and cavity prevention may sound like a pipe dream. After all, with the amount of sugar that chocolate contains, teeth should start decaying as soon as you take a bite. This would possibly be true, but the misconception that sugar directly causes cavities is false. The truth is, oral bacteria found in plaque, mainly Streptococcus mutans, process the sugars and carbs that you eat, turning them into acid that weakens your tooth enamel and saps your tooth of minerals. When the enamel is weak enough, bacteria can get past it to infect the interior of your tooth. This enamel erosion is called “demineralization,” and is the first step to tooth decay.
Chocolate Shows Your Teeth What it’s Made Of
Among its many other ingredients, chocolate contains three elements that are particularly beneficial to our physical and oral health. When digested, flavonoids and polyphenols produce antioxidants that can help protect against cancer and heart disease. A third element, tannin, may benefit oral health by interfering with oral bacteria’s normal functions. After conducting tests on rats and their teeth, Japanese researchers at Osaka University learned that the husk of the cocoa bean contained antibacterial properties that help stop the formation of tooth decay.
While researchers devise ways to incorporate chocolate’s cavity-fighting properties into dental products, experts advise that caution is key. Eating a diet that consisted solely of chocolate would not guarantee you a cavity-free life (quite the opposite, actually). Chocolate can only be useful in dental health when eaten in moderation and in conjunction with a healthy oral hygiene routine. Continue to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once. Also, visit Dr. Kobak at least once every six months for a comprehensive dental checkup and cleaning. To schedule an appointment, call our Syosset dental office at (516) 433-2211. We welcome patients from Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk, and the surrounding New York City neighborhoods.