In post-Aztec times it was believed that Xocolatl (chocolate) was good for the teeth. Now, at the time, Xocolatl was a bitter cacao drink with spices but no sugar. We will explore the dental benefits of cacao and chocolate in this article. We've already talked about other benefits of dark chocolate (Weight, Cough). We know that it can contribute to our health due to its high concentration of antioxidants in addition to having a delicious taste.
Still, it also helps us to have a better smile. Can dark chocolate contribute to keeping our teeth healthy? Let's see…
WHY CHOCOLATE CAN HELP YOUR TEETH
When we were kids, dentists asked us to brush our teeth three times a day. They even asked us not to overeat candy or chocolate because sugar could affect our teeth, which is mostly true.
However, cacao, the main ingredient of dark chocolate, has a chemical compound called theobromine that effectively prevents cavities and reduces tooth sensitivity.
Theobromine is an alkaloid that comes as a white crystalline powder with a bitter taste. Although cacao is not the only source containing this alkaloid, it is the best among all known food that possesses it. Its concentration in each seed varies from 2% to 10%.
So, theobromine can help us to fully enjoy every day and #TheGoodnessOfLife!
IS ORAL HEALTH (YOUR TEETH) IMPORTANT?
According to the World Health Organization, oral diseases form a significant burden on the health sector in many countries and affect people throughout their lives, causing pain, discomfort, disfigurement, and even death.
Oral diseases are estimated to affect nearly 3.5 billion people. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, tooth decay is the most common health disorder.
Cavities are generated when the tooth's surface (the enamel) begins to demineralize by the action of the acids produced by bacterias in our mouth. Saliva, fluoride, and theobromine counteract these acids' effects and work to retain the enamel demineralization as low as possible.
SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE...
Studies say theobromine is one of the most effective methods for reducing the onset of these carious lesions that affect so many people.
In 2016, the Dental Scientific Journal of the College of Dentist Surgeons of Costa Rica researched cacao's effectiveness on teeth' biofilm.
They compared two concentrations (12.5% and 13%) of the Theobroma cacao L solution, extracted from the cacao shell. This study split the participants into three groups: a control group and two experimental groups. For the first group, they used the 12.5% of Theobroma cacao L solution. The second group got the solution at 13% concentration—finally, the control group, which did not receive anything.
The objective was to evaluate the teeth's vestibular (on the side of the cheek) and lingual (on the side of the tongue) surfaces. To do this, they use the Quigley-Hein index, which consists of six levels of biofilm pigmentation, represented from 0 to 5.
THE RESULTS of this study:
The 12.5% shell solution was the most effective in reducing biofilm formation, with statistically significant differences between the control and experimental ones.
In the year 2000, researchers published another study in the journal Oral Biology evaluating the cavity inhibitory activity of cacao bean shell extract in vitro and animal experiments.
In this project, investigators used pathogen-free Sprague-Dawley rats to assess whether cacao bean shell extract could control cavities or not.
THE RESULTS here:
The extract reduced the growth rate of almost all oral streptococci examined, and as a consequence, less acid production.
Scientists stated that the administration of cacao bean shell extract in drinking water ended with significant reductions in decay development and biofilm formation in rats.
These results demonstrate once again that cacao has a high anti-cavity potential.
Many other studies add to the evidence that cacao and dark chocolate benefits your oral health. For example:
CACAO AND CHOCOLATE IN YOUR DAILY DENTAL ROUTINE
With their theobromine content, cacao and dark chocolate have a few studies backing the dental health benefits. In fact, there is even a toothpaste made with cacao extract as the primary component.
The product line is called Theodent and distributes three toothpaste kinds that differ in their active ingredient concentration. Also, there is a children's version that has chocolate flavor. This active element is called Rennou and includes theobromine, calcium acetate, and sodium hydrogen phosphate.
The indirect evidence shown above favors the use and consumption of dark chocolate and cacao in our daily routine to promote better oral health benefits. The studies cited above agree that cacao is an incredible option for cleaning teeth and keeping us away from pathologies such as cavities.
Despite this data, it is essential to highlight that the above experiments' conclusions need to be interpreted with attention. Remember that since most cacao (cocoa) and chocolate goods currently available on the marketplace are low in polyphenols and high in simple sugars, which can be detrimental to oral health.
This is why including high-quality artisanal dark chocolate (fine cacao, lowest sugar content possible) in our diet can bring health benefits and aesthetic rewards.
Are you interested in trying it? If so, remember to tell us your experience in the comments below, so we can keep spreading the word about what it means to live #TheGoodnessOfLife and dark chocolate benefits to our health!
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