From Valentine’s Day to Easter, nothing is more ubiquitous in the springtime holiday season than chocolate. From giant heart-shaped boxes of candy to hollow bunnies and chocolate cream-stuffed eggs, chocolate is everywhere this time of year and a hard temptation to resist if you have a sweet tooth.
Unfortunately for chocolate lovers, the tasty treat can do a number on your oral health. What are the pros and cons of eating chocolate? At Babylon Dental Care, we break down what you need to know about one of America’s favorite confections.
Are There Health Benefits to Eating Chocolate?
Americans have a love affair with chocolate. Some reports indicate that people in the United States consume nearly 12 pounds of chocolate annually. While that may seem astounding, what’s more, is the fact that chocolate may have certain health benefits. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, contains biologically active phenolic compounds. What does that mean? Studies suggest these compounds may help lower cholesterol levels, help prevent cognitive decline, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Having your chocolate and eating it, too, may boost athletic performance, reduce stress, and balance the immune system.
Feel better after indulging in chocolate? The flavanols in cocoa may improve blood flow to the brain and increase nerve function, benefiting brain function and your mood. However, before you stuff your face with the sweet stuff, you want to weigh your options. Dark chocolate may contain more beneficial antioxidants, while milk chocolate is sometimes laden with excess sugar.
The Dark Side of Chocolate
While studies show chocolate consumption may be beneficial, there are also downsides to overindulging in the sweet stuff, particularly to your oral health. Milk chocolate can contain large amounts of sugar, which can hurt your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth love sugar just as much as you do. In fact, they thrive on it. After consuming sugar, bacteria release acid as a waste byproduct, eroding tooth enamel and causing decay. Chocolate may also potentially stain your teeth, leaving them yellowed and discolored.
Why the concern about eating chocolate and oral health? Chocolate may help prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. However, poor oral health increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease and dementia. Consuming large amounts of chocolate and other sweets can damage your teeth and overall health. At the very minimum, the positive effects of consuming chocolate may not be enough to outweigh the negative effects of gum disease and tooth loss.
Finding the Sweet Spot
You can get the best of both worlds by finding the sweet spot. Enjoy chocolate, but in moderation. Select dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage and low concentration of sugar. Drink lots of water to help flush some sugar out of your mouth and prevent plaque build-up. Most importantly, schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
Make an Appointment Today
Keep your pearly whites clean and healthy with help from the New York dental care professionals at Babylon Dental Care. Make an appointment today by calling our office at (632) 893-6665.