Dark Chocolate: Friend or Foe?

Too much sugar can be bad for your teeth, but it’s not the sugar itself that causes the trouble. When you eat, several things happen in your mouth. Foods contain acids or substances that can create acids. Sugar is problematic because it enables bacteria to grow and produce more acids, and these acids break down tooth enamel. Other types of foods, like starches, can also produce acids, and citrus fruits are particularly acidic. So sugar is not necessarily more of a problem for your teeth than other types of foods.

The key to eliminating acids is saliva, which helps to wash them away. The act of chewing in itself stimulates saliva production. Some foods contain substances called tannin, which can reduce acids. This is why tannin-containing foods and beverages may actually be good for your teeth. One of these foods is chocolate.

The tannin in chocolate is in the cocoa, and dark chocolate contains more cocoa than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate also contains less sugar than milk chocolate, so when it comes to your teeth, eating dark chocolate may not only be safe, it may even be helpful. When choosing dark chocolate, read labels and pick a brand that contains a high percentage of cocoa, at least 70%. The more cocoa dark chocolate has, the less sweet it is, and the better it is for your teeth.

One concern about tannin is that it can cause teeth staining if consumed in excess. If you are worried about staining, you should try to brush your teeth after eating dark chocolate or other tannin containing foods or beverage (red wine, coffee and tea are some others.) You should not brush immediately after eating, however. This is because after you have eaten, your teeth are soft. Brushing with a toothbrush at this time could actually harm your teeth and interfere with the recalcification process that re-hardens your teeth for about 20 minutes after eating. Once 20 minutes has passed, brushing your teeth will get help to rid of any remaining acids, as well as cleaning your teeth to reduce the chances of staining. If you can’t brush your teeth that soon after eating, drinking water is the next best thing

Dark Chocolate: Friend or Foe?
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Dark Chocolate: Friend or Foe?
Is dark chocolate better for your teeth than milk chocolate? Find out in this blog post by Dr. Somya Kanumilli of Aldie Dentist.