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With Easter approaching and the shops piled high with chocolate treats, here’s some good news – chocolate can actually be good for your teeth! In fact studies have shown that chocolate may be more effective than fluoride in fighting tooth decay.
“Real chocolate, made from cacao, contains compounds that help harden tooth enamel and has anti-bacterial properties that help fight plaque,” says Dirna Grobbelaar, IVOhealth’s oral hygiene expert. “It also has well-documented anti-flammatory properties which can help prevent gum disease.”
Sadly, much of the chocolate on sale contains sugar, dairy and only tiny amounts of processed cacao. To enjoy the oral health benefits you need to eat unprocessed cacao (which does have a bitter taste) or the darkest chocolate your taste buds can appreciate. However, even 70% dark chocolate contains sugar, so it’s important never to neglect your oral care.
Grobbelaar recommends rinsing the mouth with water, or even better, an alcohol-free mouthwash (like Dentyl Active) after enjoying chocolate or other sugary foods or drinks. “Don’t brush immediately as the sugar will have temporarily softened the tooth’s enamel. Rather wait at least an hour before brushing.”
One big chocolate feast rather than sneaky treats throughout the day is also recommended. “It’s better for the teeth to face a once-off fluctuation in acid balance rather than continually,” says Grobbelaar.
Sticking to an effective daily routine is important, whether or not you indulge. “Brush correctly for two minutes, twice a day; clean in-between every day and rinse for extra fresh-breath confidence,” recommends Grobbelaar. An annual visit to the dentist and twice-yearly to the oral hygienist will help maintain a healthy smile for life.
For more advice on how to keep even the sweetest tooth healthy, speak to your dentist or oral hygienist. For oral care tips, news and competitions visit www.ivohealth.co.za or www.facebook.com/IVOhealth.