Chocolate has gotten a bad wrap when it comes to dental health, and probably for a good reason. Most chocolate sold today is not chocolate at all. The majority is nothing more than sugar, dairy, and a tiny amount of processed cacao. The significant health benefits attributed to dark chocolate are lost in processed milk chocolate, which is why it's so often linked to negative health outcomes. Dark chocolate is the preferred chocolate you should consume if you're seeking any type of beneficial health effects. Recent research has shown that dark, unprocessed cacao has benefits that go beyond cellular protection, with one study showing it may be effective for supporting oral hygiene.
The Dental Benefits of Chocolate
Research examining a powerful flavonoid extract derived from cacao – the source of modern-day chocolate – found powerful effects for oral health. Theobromine, an alkaloid found in cacao and tea, may provide antioxidant effects against gum disease and tooth erosion. Some researchers are pitting this chocolate extract against fluoride, a common neurotoxin added to toothpaste and the public water supply. This recent research is showing that this chocolate extract may be more effective than fluoride.
There are many reasons why you should avoid fluoride in favor of theobromine, the natural extract from the cacao plant. For one, fluoride may promote neurotoxic effects following prolonged exposure. Also, too much fluoride ingestion can cause fluorosis, a complicated and frustrating condition that results in yellowing of the teeth and even calcification of ligaments. Fluoride just isn't the safest ingredient for promoting oral health. Plant-based extracts, however, are showing more promise.
Don't start brushing your teeth with chocolate sauce just yet. While the research is promising, it isn't suggesting you're doing your teeth and gums good by eating a chocolate bar. If you want a chocolate fix, grab a handful of organic, unprocessed cacao nibs to satisfy your craving. To support your teeth and gums without using fluoride, brush with fluoride-free toothpaste, floss every day, drink water, avoid sugar, and get plenty of vitamin D.
Education and information are also key to understanding the dangers of fluoride. I recommend you check out the documentary, Fluoride: Poison on Tap. It explains the magnitude of the fluoride situation and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it.
- Tulane University. Chocolate Toothpaste? Extract Of Tasty Treat Could Fight Tooth Decay. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2007.
- Choi AL, Zhang Y, Sun G, et al. Association of lifetime exposure to fluoride and cognitive functions in Chinese children: a pilot study. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2015 Jan-Feb;47:96-101. doi: 10.1016/j.ntt.2014.11.001.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.