Most of us grow up with the message drilled into us that sugary treats are terrible for teeth.
It’s true. But just how bad is chocolate? Can it really affect your smile…and more importantly, how many eggs is it ok to eat this Easter?
Here experts from The Harley Street Smile Clinic peel back the foil to reveal the truth about chocolate and teeth.
How much sugar is it ok to eat?
Most adults in the UK eat too much of what are classed as ‘free sugars’. These are:
- Sugars added to our food and drink i.e. in biscuits, fizzy drinks, flavoured yogurts and, you guessed it, chocolate.
- Sugars that occur naturally but in foods such as honey, syrup, smoothies etc.
Natural sugars found in milk, fruit and veg don’t count.
Government guidelines recommend that free sugars should not account for more than 5% of our daily calorie intake. Which means the average adult should avoid consuming more than 30g of free sugars a day – that’s around 7 sugar cubes.
To put things into context – a medium-sized Easter egg contains around 15 sugar cubes!
Will chocolate ruin your teeth?
You don’t need us to tell you that a diet high in sugar isn’t recommended.
Over time not only will you be straining to zip up your jeans, but the sugar will also start to erode the enamel on your teeth, causing cavities. Worse still, sugar encourages the bacteria responsible for gingivitis and gum disease.
Chocolate also contains tannins, which cause staining. Eat too much and over time your teeth will discolour.
What’s the solution?
It’s not all bad news and vegetables (phew!).
When it comes to chocolate, particularly dark, research suggests it’s actually far less harmful than other sweet treats. In fact, compounds in the cacao bean husk have been found to have an anti-bacterial effect that counteract the high sugar levels.
Dark chocolate is also a source of polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, helping to reduce bacteria and fight against periodontal disease.
Know the facts
This information is game-changing stuff, but before you start brushing your teeth with a bar of Cadbury’s finest, it’s best to know the facts in full.
It’s not really ‘chocolate’ that helps teeth, it’s the cacao in chocolate. So ideally, you need to opt for a dark variety with 70% cacao or higher.
Milk and white chocolate contain extra sugar and less cacao – sometimes as little as 10%. So there are fewer redeeming features to justify snacking on these.
Everything in moderation
Truth is, as with everything, enjoying chocolate is all about moderation.
As long as you maintain a good oral hygiene routine – with regular brushing and flossing – and stick to routine check-ups with your dentist, there’s no reason why you can’t tuck in.
Still feel a bit naughty? For guilt-free indulgence, just be sure to switch white and milk chocolate for dark, drink water after you eat (to rinse any remaining traces of chocolate away) and gen up with our blog on how to, ‘Enjoy Easter treats – without running your teeth‘.
If all else fails, then why not book yourself in a post choccie-fest treat? Our mini smile makeovers help to clean and revive your teeth, restoring whiteness and putting your smile back on track.
Alternatively, if a lifetime of sweet treats has already left its mark. Take a look at the range of cosmetic dental treatments we can offer.
Talk to the team to discover what we could do for you this Easter.