chocolate and tooth decay

chocolate and tooth decayMaryville, Alcoa and Knoxville TN

What do the holidays have in common? Chocolate. From leftover Halloween candy, Christmas stocking goodies, to Valentine’s Day and Easter, chocolate is a holiday staple in our culture. We’ve always been told that sugar is bad for our teeth, but recent studies have shown that certain types of chocolate may actually help prevent cavities. In this article, your Knoxville dentist Dr. Ben Sentell wants to help you get the facts about chocolate and tooth decay.

Chocolate isn’t as bad for your teeth as you might think

Yes, we know you were told growing up that too much candy is bad for you, but recent scientific research indicates that chocolate in moderation actually has positive health benefits. A study released in 2016 by the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study found that eating chocolate daily actually improved overall brain cognition, after studying 968 participants over a span of 18 years.

Let’s take a look at the different types of chocolate and their effects on your teeth

Milk chocolate – Arguably the most popular type of chocolate in America, this, unfortunately, is one of the worst types of chocolate when it comes to your dental health. This is because the composition of milk chocolate contains a higher quantity of sugar than other varieties of chocolate. A blend of sugar and powdered milk makes up 70 to 80 percent of the composition of the average milk chocolate—much more likely to lead to potential cavities and tooth decay if over-consumed. 

Dark chocolate – This is a great choice that actually can help prevent cavities. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols and flavonoids. Polyphenols are chemicals that work against the accumulation of bacteria and other microorganisms in your mouth. Specifically, polyphenols can neutralize bad breath and prevent the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth from converting sugars into acid. Flavonoids are chemicals that have been found to have antimicrobial effects—which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. With a composition that includes about 70 percent cocoa, dark chocolate also has the lowest sugar content.

Knowledge helps you prevent tooth decay

One of the best ways to safeguard against cavities is to understand how decay forms. We all have both good and bad bacteria in our mouths at all times. Decay starts when those bad bacteria feed off sugars that are leftover from eating or drinking sweetened beverages. These sugars are consumed by the bacteria and excreted as acids, which can deteriorate your tooth enamel. This wears away the protective outer layer of your tooth structure, making your teeth even more susceptible to decay.

Preventive Dental Care in Maryville

We are in the thick holiday season; so while you reach for the chocolate (the dark kind that is), don’t feel guilty! Meanwhile, you can improve your defense against oral health threats like tooth decay by brushing your teeth twice per day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist for a check-up every six months as advised by the American Dental Association. Dr. Ben Sentell and the team of oral health professionals at Cedar Street Family Dentistry are here to serve you and every member of your family. To learn more about our services, call (865) 233-7640 to schedule a consultation.