Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, the name of which is derived from the Greek for “food of the gods.” Few people would disagree that chocolate really is a heavenly treat. A common misconception is that chocolate causes cavities. The reality is eating chocolate may actually prevent them. Researchers recently discovered the cocoa bean husk contains an anti-bacterial agent that kills cavity-causing bacteria.
How Chocolate Prevents Cavities
Cavities form when harmful bacteria called Streptococcus mutans secrete acid that erodes enamel. This hard, outer-layer of your teeth protects the inner layer from bacteria that cause tooth decay. S. mutans compromises this protective layer, and leaves your teeth vulnerable to forming cavities. Because the antibacterial agent in the cocoa bean husk kills S. mutans, you are less likely to develop cavities when eating chocolate than other sweets. This is not to say you should eat chocolate on a regular basis, but eating a delicious piece from time to time is acceptable.
There are a few negative effects of chocolate on your health, however. While cocoa butter found in chocolate may prevent cavities, it also contains saturated fat, which can cause high blood pressure and lead to heart disease. Chocolate can also stain your teeth because it contains tannins.
Other Anti-Cavity Foods
Chocolate is not the only food that contains powerful cavity-fighting properties. People have long touted milk for its tooth-strengthening vitamin D and calcium, but it is also a healthy alternative to other drinks because of its low acid content. Milk is relatively neutral and it will not contribute to acid erosion. Scientists have also discovered enzyme-modified coconut milk kills S. mutans and prevents tooth decay. Developers hope to use enzyme-modified foods like coconut milk to increase the cavity protection of everyday oral hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash someday. The same is true for cocoa bean husks.
Schedule an Appointment
While chocolate may prevent cavities, the best way to protect against tooth decay is still to brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit your Livonia dentist for regular six-month dental cleanings. To schedule an appointment with Dr. James Stewart, please call our Livonia dentist office at (734) 425-4400 today. We serve patients from Livonia, Novi, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Dearborn, and the surrounding areas.