Americans will spend an estimated $1.1 million this Valentine’s Day, buying more than 36-million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candy. Eating all this chocolate may not be as bad for your teeth as suspected, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.
Chocolate contains tannins – a compound that helps prevent cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to the teeth and gums. When mixed with sugar, tannins can reduce the plaque bacteria that cause dental and gum disease. Studies have shown that eating chocolate has suppressed cavity development.
“Just because chocolate contains sugar doesn’t mean it is cariogenic or cavity-causing,” says Charles Perle, DMD, FAGD, spokesperson of the Academy of General Dentistry. “Chocolate tends to be less cariogenic than previously believed because of a low resting pH level, which means the acid level in the mouth is low.”
While chocolate may help reduce cavities, it is still filled with empty calories, and people still need to brush their teeth after eating foods high in sugar. “It is always best to limit the intake of high sugar food and to brush immediately after eating to remove any remaining particles,” says Dr. Perle.
Kissing and Cavities
Kissing has been linked to prevention of tooth decay, because it stimulates saliva, which helps reduce the incidence of cavities.
“Kissing is nature’s cleansing process,” explains Heidi K. Hausauer, DDS, FAGD, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. “Saliva washes out the mouth and helps remove the cavity-causing food particles that accumulate after meals.
During moments of increased saliva stimulation, a person can produce up to a teaspoon of saliva per minute, and throughout the day, produce up to four cups of saliva.
No one to kiss? Chew sugarfree gum – it can produce three times the regular amount of saliva.
Couples often possess similar dental habits. A person with clear dental neglect is 32 times more likely to have a partner with clear neglect. Likewise, a person without neglect is 5.4 times more likely to have a comparable partner. People may select spouses with some parallel dental behavior or develop the same dental characteristics over time.