It might sound too good to be true: Candy that’s good for your teeth? It’s true: there are a few types of candy that are actually great for your oral health!
Chewing Gum can be great for your teeth - as long as it is sugarless gum. Chewing gum increases the production of saliva, which plays an essential role in neutralizing acids in the mouth and preventing bad breath and tooth decay. Gum with sugar would negate any positive effects, since the sugar would only provide a feast for the bacteria in your mouth, resulting in greater production of harmful, tooth enamel-attacking acids.
Xylitol in particular has been shown to have numerous oral health benefits. It is a natural, plant derived sweetener that neutralizes the pH balance of your mouth and is indigestible by bacteria. This means that bacteria cannot stick to the teeth well, the growth of bacteria is greatly reduced, far less enamel-attacking acid is produced. Xylitol helps protect your teeth from decay and if taken regularly, can even help prevent new cavities from forming and heal damage to enamel. Look for sugarless gum and candy that is sweetened with Xylitol!
Important Note: Though Xylitol is perfectly safe for humans, even small amounts can be very dangerous and even life-threatening to dogs and cats. Be sure to keep anything containing Xylitol out of reach of your hungry pets!
Dark Chocolate is packed with antioxidants (about four times more than green tea!) like tannins, flavonoids and polyphenols. These antioxidants have a kind of antibacterial effect in the mouth, helping to prevent bacteria from turning into damaging acids and reducing the production of plaque. Antioxidants also reduce inflammation and work to prevent inflammation of the gums, one of the effects of periodontal (gum) disease. Cocoa butter also coats your teeth, making it harder for plaque to adhere to them.
But perhaps the most interesting and effective benefit of dark chocolate is the compound CBH, which studies have found hardens tooth enamel, making your teeth more resistant to sensitivity and cavities. In fact, it’s been suggested that CBH is even more effective at fighting tooth decay than fluoride, and might soon be used in mouthwash and toothpaste. Imagine that - a compound found in chocolate added to toothpaste!
Though dark chocolate provides numerous, fantastic oral health benefits, due to its high caloric content it is still not exactly a healthy food, so be sure to limit your intake to 1-2 ounces a day. It is also important to choose dark chocolate with high cocoa content - milk and white chocolate are highly processed and do not contain adequate amounts of cocoa and contain far too much sugar, too. Look for dark chocolate with 70% or more cocoa content and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.