Chocolate & Your Teeth
February. Unless your child is a snowmobiler, skier, or ice-fisherman, February is likely a month most of us wishes would pass as quickly as it begins. After all, frozen toes and chapped lips aren’t usually physical afflictions one desires to endure on a daily basis – even our snowman architect children. Even our southern brethren, who brave a more mild winter, no doubt yearn for the days when a sweater is no longer required. Despite the cold, though, there is always something about February that helps to melt away all that freeze and warm us up both inside and out – Valentine’s Day, and its most favorite of gifts – chocolate!
Can Chocolate Be Good for Your Child's Teeth?
Now, before you think we’re about to tell you all the bad things about chocolate and why you should keep your kids away from it … we’re going to surprise you here for a bit. Reason being, would you believe, that chocolate can actually be good for your child’s teeth?
If you’re doing a little happy dance right now, you can continue … we’ll wait a moment. Okay, thanks. Yes, that’s not a typo. Chocolate can be good for our teeth. The problem is, most chocolate we consume is so loaded with sugar and calories the benefits we gain remain minimal. That said, it’s always good to understand what makes the foods we consume good or bad for us, and since your children are likely to be consuming more than their typical quantity of chocolate this month, we thought we would help fill you in on chocolate’s teeth protecting qualities.
- Polyphenols! Scientists believe this antioxidant compound found in fruits and vegetables, tea, red wine, coffee, and chocolate to name a few, helps reduce inflammation, cholesterol and high blood pressure, while also protecting from heart attack and stroke. When it comes to oral health, the perceived role of polyphenols in controlling inflammation could equate to a lesser incidence of gingivitis.
- Cocoa Butter! The velvety texture of cocoa butter not only helps make chocolate taste yummy and luxurious, but it also helps coat the teeth when we bite into our favorite February treat. This coating helps prevent plaque from sticking to the teeth shortly after consumption – another benefit for the much-maligned chocolate-shaped heart.
- Cocoa Husk? We’ve saved the best for last. Research over the past ten years has suggested the husk of the cocoa bean contains antibacterial properties that offset the destructive effects of sugar on teeth, and can actually boost the mouth’s ability to fight off the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Now, before you rush out and stock up on chocolate as result of this good news … here’s the bad news. For now, at least, the husk is actually disposed of when manufacturing the chocolate we consume today. And, while this may change in the future, in the short term, science is looking for ways to incorporate the beneficial properties of the husk into products such as mouthwash and toothpaste.
So, you really don’t need to be hiding chocolate from your children. And, with giant chocolate Easter bunnies just a few months away, we know this would be an impossible task anyway. The good news is that chocolate (especially in moderation) may be a much better choice for them than other types of sweets. So, let your kids have some fun this Valentines’ season – and make this February a bit warmer at the same time.