We have the secret to eating as much chocolate as you like this Easter without damaging your teeth!
So lets start with the bad new first and then we’ll get on to the good news!
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a chocolate treat but make sure you don’t forget about your teeth and your family’s teeth this Easter. We all know that too much sugar isn’t just a precursor for bad oral health; it set’s the tone for bad overall health and wellbeing.
Chocolate also contains CBH (cocoa bean husk extract), a compound that, in research carried out in Japan, has been proven to strengthen enamel, another factor which can help reduce tooth decay. These benefits only come with a good quality chocolate. Cheap chocolate will be full of sugar and it’s this you want to avoid as its detrimental effects to oral health will outweigh any benefits that chocolate might have.
The Good News:
Stick to dark chocolate
Look for the chocolate that has a high cocoa percentage. Raw chocolate is also worth trying and is now readily available in most supermarkets. Try to avoid milk chocolate and particularly white chocolate with its high sugar percentage.
Enjoy in moderation
Don’t go crazy on the chocolate consumption! It’s easy at Easter to over-indulge and while a small treat is fine, gorging on chocolate isn’t healthy.
Remember to brush
It should go without saying but make sure you remember to brush your teeth twice a day. If you have kids, it’s especially important to reiterate this to them at Easter time.
Spoil the kids at meal times to stop the rot
Children can still enjoy Easter Eggs without running the risk of damaging their smiles. The trick is to encourage them to eat sweets at the end of a meal, rather than constantly nibbling throughout the day. “Contrary to popular belief, frequent eating of sugary food and drinks is far worse for the teeth than the volume that children actually eat. After eating sugar, teeth are under acid attack for up to an hour, so if you can reduce the amount of time your child eats sugar throughout the day, you also limit the amount of time that their teeth are susceptible. This is really important over Easter when children eat more sugary foods than normal.”
“A good tip to help manage sweets and chocolates is to put them in a special box or tin and allow your children to choose some to eat at the end of a meal.“
During Easter, introduce sweets at mealtimes only, with perhaps one additional snack.
Be aware of danger factors
As children naturally prefer sweet food, the challenge for parents is to balance giving them the food they love while at the same time looking out for their teeth and gums. But Icon Dental reminds parents that there is no shame in letting the kids have a little of what theyenjoy at Easter, as long as they remember that: “Parents simply need to be aware of the ‘danger’ factors for teeth - sugar and acid. Knowing how to combat them means that foods containing sugar do not need to be avoided altogether.”
Don’t let kids rush the brush
Icon Dental suggests using the Easter school holidays as a good time to brush-up on children’s teeth care habits: “School holidays give parents a bit more time-out to check that children are brushing their teeth properly. We recommend children brush teeth for two minutes both in the morning and at night.
“I’d also recommend that you encourage your children to spit rather than rinse. Rinsing after brushing reduces the effectiveness of fluoride toothpaste so, don’t rinse it all away.
On its own, sugar does not damage teeth
Tooth decay happens when sugars in your mouth are converted into acid by the bacteria that grow on your teeth (bacteria form a soft, sticky layer on the tooth, called plaque). Acids damage teeth by dissolving the hard tooth structure. Without bacteria, sugars are harmless for teeth.
Unfortunately, plaque forms continuously. The best time to remove plaque bacteria is before enjoying your chocolate. No bacteria, then no acid conversion from sugar.
Plaque can be hard to see, so use disclosing tablets to visualise plaque before brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
Rotating or oscillating-head electric toothbrushes are very efficient at plaque removal. Use dental floss or interdental brushes to remove more inaccessible plaque between your teeth and gums to minimise acid production and dental damage when the sugar arrives. Wait a few minutes before enjoying chocolate – it doesn’t taste great mixed with the aftertaste of toothpaste.
Have a good Easter; enjoy your chocolate – responsibly. Any surplus chocolate can be brought to the practice where my team and I will dispose of it – responsibly.