Planning to indulge in a little chocolate today? You’re not the only one: 70 percent of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day with a sweet treat.
Over the centuries chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac, a stimulant, food for the gods, and a healthy snack. Victorian etiquette books warned that single ladies should never accept chocolates ‘from gentlemen to whom they are neither related nor engaged’.
But now we know that sugary snacks and drinks can be a dental disaster. So can you indulge in a little chocolate today, without worrying about wrecking your smile? The answer is … yes.
Chocolate and your teeth
Sugar itself doesn’t rot your teeth – it’s used as fuel by the acid-producing bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria love carbohydrates. Carb-fueled bacteria multiply super-fast, creating an acidic environment in your mouth that weakens teeth and fosters the growth of bacterial plaque. Over time, without proper oral hygiene and dental care, the plaque clinging to teeth works its way under the gums, resulting in oral infections and tooth decay. Bacterial plaque is the primary cause of 90% of all dental disease.
So you do want to limit sugar, which fuels the oral bacteria that cause dental decay. Once of the best ways to do this is to avoid sticky, sweet foods such as caramels, raisins and dried fruit that dissolve slowly and stick to your teeth. The same goes for hard candies (such as lollipops) or sugary cough drops. In contrast a chocolate bar dissolves quickly, making it a somewhat healthier snack.
When you do choose to eat sugary foods or drinks, it’s best to eat them as part of a well-balanced meal instead of as a solo snack. Salvia flows more freely when you’re eating a full meal, so sugars will spend less time in your mouth. So have that chocolate for dessert, rather than a between-meal snack.
And do rinse your mouth with water after eating chocolate if you can’t follow up with a brush and floss.
Remember even the healthiest food can cause dental decay if you don’t practice good oral hygiene. Brush for two minutes twice a day, and floss at least once. See your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.
If regular dental care doesn’t fit into your budget, get healthy with a dental savings plan. A dental savings plan cuts dental costs by 10%-60%. And unlike traditional dental insurance, there is no waiting period for costlier procedures, and no restrictions on getting treatment for pre-existing conditions.
Logical reasons to eat chocolate
The most compelling reason to eat chocolate is that it tastes delicious. But did you also know that it can make you smarter?
Back in the mid-1970s, psychologist Merrill Elias began studying the relationship of blood pressure to brain performance. The study continued for decades, and expanded over the years to gauge the connections between food and general health.
After 40 years, Elias’ research revealed an interesting insight into people who consume chocolate – in general, those who eat chocolate at least one a week tend to be cleverer than those who don’t.