Two Times When Your Sweet Tooth May Actually Be Good For Your Oral Health

If you've talked to a dentist or read any information about dental health, you've likely learned that sugary desserts and snacks are bad for your teeth. This is true for the most part. However, like everything in life, there are exceptions. Here are two treats you can indulge in that may actually improve your oral health.


Chocolate has long been a fan favorite, with people partaking of it as far back as 1900 BC. The cacao seeds used to make your favorite chocolate candies were so valued at one point, they were used as money. In addition to helping lower the risk of heart disease and improving cholesterol levels, chocolate may strengthen teeth and protect your oral health.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which has been shown to strengthen teeth better than fluoride. It does such a good job of this that scientists are looking at developing a theobromine extract that would be used in addition to or in place of the more commonly used sodium fluoride put in toothpastes and other oral care products.

Chocolate also contains a number of antioxidants—tannins, flavonoids, and polyphenols—that work together to keep bacterial and environmental damage at bay. Polyphenols neutralize bacteria that cause bad breath, while the tannins help keep the microorganisms from sticking to your teeth. Flavonoids slow down tooth decay.

However, it's important to note that you only get these benefits from dark chocolate, and the darker the better. Milk and white chocolate contain quite a bit of sugar and fat that may counter any oral health benefits you may receive from consuming them.

Licorice Root

When many people in America think of licorice, those red or black ropes found on retail store shelves typically come to mind. However, there's another type of licorice found in parts of Asia and southern Europe is the kind that will actually boost your oral health. Called licorice root, this sweet tasting herb has compounds that minimize bacterial growth and prevents bad breath.

Much of the licorice in America is made using an extract called anise oil rather than licorice root. Therefore, it's essential to read the ingredients on the packaging to ensure you're getting the real thing. However, you can also find a number of dental health products that contain this ingredient, so you don't have to seek out treats containing it if that's not your thing. You should check with your doctor first, though, as licorice root can have an adverse reaction with some medications.

For more information about the oral health benefits of these candies or more tips for strengthening your teeth, contact a dentist, like one from Dentistry For Children & Adolescents.