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Chocolate loves me… it loves me not! Is Chocolate for Valentine’s Day Good for my Love One’s Teeth?

Let’s face it. Next to flowers and jewelry, chocolate is what we give on Valentine’s Day. But why?  Chocolate has been referred to as “the food of the gods” since the time of the Aztec Indians. In fact, the Aztec ruler, Montezuma, believed chocolate was an aphrodisiac. Christopher Columbus brought chocolate from the Americas back as a tribute to Queen Isabella of Spain along with other treasures… like gold! This new luxury, chocolate, and its legend as an aphrodisiac, quickly spread throughout the aristocracy of Europe.

In time though, chocolate made its way to the masses. By the 1800s, the Cadbury Brothers had set up shop in England making and selling chocolate to average citizens. In 1861, Richard Cadbury created the first ever heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day. Thus, began the common link between chocolate and Valentine’s Day. A new tradition had begun.

Now, modern science has linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and even pleasure. So maybe Montezuma was right!

How does chocolate affect my health?

Here’s the positive news: An 18-year study of 968 participants who ate chocolate on a daily basis had shown an improvement in overall brain cognition. But as far as your teeth go, stick with dark chocolate. It’s made up of at least 70% of real cocoa and contains polyphenols which can aid in the battle over bacteria in the mouth.  They actually help to freshen your breath, and stop sugars transforming into acid which then attack your enamel – this is how we get cavities and tooth decay in the first place.

Another great quality inside dark chocolate is compound called a flavonoid, which can help slow down the decay process. These antioxidants are also mighty beneficial to us in many different ways, but when you have high levels in your saliva, they go to war against gum disease.

Unlike dark chocolate, milk chocolate only consists of roughly 25% of cocoa, leaving 75% to be made up from a mixture of powdered milk and sugar. That may taste delicious but unfortunately this balance does not make it ideal, so although a small amount of it is fine, be sure to rinse your mouth from all that sugar, brush your teeth or chew some sugar-free gum.

As in all things, moderation is key. And of course, a regular visit to your dentist helps too! Make your appointment with the pros at Longmeadow Family Dental Care and help us keep you smiling bright on Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year.