Truths of Chocolate CARIES vs. COCOA

Truths of Chocolate CARIES vs. COCOA

Chocolate has been and is still considered a food savored for its taste, nutritional value and tradition within Latin American culture. However, its negative effect on human teeth has been questioned. However, cocoa contains high amounts of natural antioxidants that prevent cell damage and aging, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and thrombotic diseases. It also potentiates the effect of other antioxidants that take care of the body.

Likewise, dental cavities is the most frequent disease in the world and can be defined as a “multifactorial infectocontagiosa” condition, caused basically by the reaction of the acids from the synthesis of carbohydrates from your diet by the microorganisms found in the saliva of the mouth. The bacterium Streptococcus Mutans, is the main cause agent of caries, acting on sugars and forming acids, which decreases the pH of the mouth affecting the teeth.

From time to time certain truths have been revealed in relation to cocoa-based products, such as chocolate. As its chemical compound is studied, new advantages and therapeutic properties for oral care are being discovered. Recent studies reveal a series of hidden properties, which deny certain myths that demonized the consumption of this fruit.

The potential of cavities is related to the total amount of fermentable carbohydrates they possess, including starch and sugars. Cocoa present in chocolate is not intrinsically cariogenic (susceptible to caries), as it does not contain significant fermentable carbohydrates yet there is still the linking of chocolate with the direct formation of caries. However, it is suggested to eat chocolate free or with no added sugar to get the most benefits.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the first concrete evidence of this phenomenon was found. A study carried out at the Vipeholm institute in Sweden, confirmed later by another study conducted in Scotland with 3,000 children, found that the increased consumption of chocolate (six times more) did not lead to more dental caries.

A recent article published in New Scientist, mentions a compound found in the cocoa seed that can help curb the breakdown of teeth. The compound can also be found in chocolate and cocoa butter. It covers the teeth and appears to protect them from plaque.

Chocolate is composed largely of polyphenols (catechins, epicatechins and tannins), all of the family of flavonoids, bioactive substances with antioxidant action, which seek to neutralize excess free radicals. One of the added advantages of flavonoids is their ability to reduce inflammation of blood vessels, thereby improving the microcirculation of all oral tissues, including gums and mucous membranes.
On the other hand, the research team of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that one of the tannins present in cocoa inhibits the activity of the oral enzyme dextransucrase, a key element in the formation of dental plaque, without which tooth decay would not appear.

On the other hand, the research team of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that one of the tannins present in cocoa inhibits the activity of the oral enzyme dextransucrase, a key element in the formation of dental plaque, without which tooth decay would not appear.

Likewise, tannic acid in cocoa inhibits the formation of dental plaque. In fact, the American Dietetic Association affirms that said compound has the property to prevent the formation of dental plaque. In addition, the astringent qualities of tannic acid reinforce the gums and protect them from diseases, such as gingivitis and eventual abscess formation.

Yankell and fellow colleagues reported that the combination of cacao with sucrose is less cariogenic than sucrose alone. This may be due to the presence of tannins that cocoa possesses.

According to Shelby Kashket of the Forsyth Dental Center in Boston, the fatty content of chocolate facilitates faster passage of food into the mouth and reduces the rise in oral acidity (pH), which translates into lower risk for the teeth issues . A group of Japanese researchers, led by Dr. Takashi Ooshima of the University of Osaka, noted that adding cocoa shell extract to the water ingested by experimental animals kept their teeth healthier.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, established that consumption of chocolate, without excess, can protect the child’s teeth. Calcium, phosphorus and cocoa butter present in chocolate are an aid to disease prevention and maintenance of healthy teeth. Oral hygiene is indispensable in all cases.

Chocolate is a natural product easily absorbed. When consumed in a drink or bar, it melts in the mouth and does not remain attached to the teeth, so it is less likely to accumulate in cavities, thus preventing the appearance of cavities..

When thinking about people, and contradicting some beliefs regarding the damage caused by chocolate, it was determined that the moderate consumption of this sugar-free food far from damaging the oral health greatly improves it. However, more studies are necessary and it is circumstancial to perform the routine- daily care (dental brushing, mouthwash and floss) with periodic visit to the dentist, at least 2 times a year.


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Profesora Asistente de la Facultad de Estomatología. ISCM-H. Vicedirectora de Investigaciones del CPIE


The Journal of American Medical Association

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