Is Chocolate Bad for Your Teeth?

In Blog, Dental Care, Dental Health, Oral Health by Dr. Lattinelli

Upper East Side Smile Makeover | Manhattan Dental Office

Few people, if any, dislike chocolate. Considered one of life’s guilty pleasures, chocolate holds a special place in our collective hearts and is present at a wide range of social activities from romantic endeavors to the rampant candy-filled feasts of Easter and Halloween. What most people don’t know, however, is that chocolate is a much more complex substance than it would initially seem.

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The big question is whether chocolate is bad for your teeth and the answer to that resides in your choice of chocolate. Milk chocolate, by far the most common type in the US, is 30% or less cocoa combined with milk and sugar. This combination produces a silky sweet substance that is easily manipulated and can be adapted for a wide variety of uses.

Unfortunately, this milk chocolate is the worst in terms of dental impact. The high sugar content feeds bacteria in the same other sugar-based products do, with no mitigating factors to offset the difference. Milk chocolate and white chocolate contain 15-17 grams of sugar per ounce and contribute significantly to tooth decay over time.

These numbers may seem to spell the end of chocolate for the health-conscious among us, but there is still some good news. The chocolate itself, or cocoa, contains many beneficial compounds that can actually help fight tooth decay and gum disease. From polyphenols that retard bacterial growth and flavonoids to slow decay, to antioxidants that help fight gum disease, cocoa goes to bat for your teeth. Milk chocolate does not take advantage of these properties because it contains a disproportionately low amount of cocoa compared to sugar. However, dark chocolate is approximately 70% cocoa and takes advantage of these properties to help fight damage to your teeth.

As with most things, the key to chocolate is moderation. While a little bit of milk chocolate every now and then shouldn’t be a problem if you are taking care of your teeth, steering towards dark chocolate when possible can help mitigate the damage.

If you and your family are in need of a deep cleaning and want to have a great experience, come see us at Dr. Lattinelli’s Upper East Side Dentist! We love helping all of our guests show off their best smiles.