Photo: Yannou (flickr)
We’ve all heard that candy will give you cavities, but a recent study has found that a compound in chocolate is actually even better at fighting cavities than fluoride.
The compound, theobromine, can be extracted from the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Researchers at Tulane University and the University of New Orleans found that theobromine can help fight cavities.
Everyday thin layers of our tooth enamel are continually dissolving and then being rebuilt, or remineralized. Fluoride aids in this process by helping your teeth rebuild the hard enamel surfaces, and by making your teeth less susceptible to the acids produced by germs in plaque.
While the research is still in the early stages, theobromine proved even more effective than fluoride in lab tests at both rebuilding enamel and protecting teeth from acids. However, it will be another two to four years before enough real-world tests can be done for it to be approved for use in toothpastes or mouth rinses.
Don’t forget that chocolate not only contains theobromine, but is also full of sugars that feed the decay-causing bacteria in your mouth. For this reason, simply eating chocolate in its traditional form will not have the same tooth preserving effects.