One warning that most children would have heard from their parent or other elders is, 'don’t eat chocolates, your teeth will get decayed'. And, most children grow up believing this to be true. As this is a global statement thus, more and more research has been done to clarify this. (Learn more to maintain Oral Health in Children)
Let us understand in brief the basic process of tooth decay. The tooth is made of mineralized layer called the enamel that is covered constantly with saliva. There are thousands of bacteria in the mouth. Food substances gradually deposit on the teeth and form plaque (learn more about plaque problem). This combination of a moist environment and bacteria on a mineralized structure produces the ideal environment for bacteria to act and produce acids which break down the minerals in the enamel. This is the first step in the origin of decay. The acid produced attracts more bacteria which further leads to worsening of the decay.
Some of the facts correlating chocolates and tooth decay are as follows:
- Chocolates in particular do not cause tooth decay. Very often, children tend to eat chocolates in between their meals and do not rinse or brush. This leads to greater level of plaque formation, thereby, starting off the process of decay. Not just chocolates any sticky foods can lead to tooth decay. What needs to be enforced is a habit to brush or at the least rinse thoroughly after eating a chocolate bar. In fact, this could be used as a reward, and it can help food deposits formed from other foods also to be washed away. The child gets to eat a chocolate, and good oral hygiene is reinforced too!
- Eating a chocolate before the actual meal is a way to indulge. What happens is that there is no sticky residue on the teeth if eaten this way. The child gets to enjoy chocolate at the same time keeping the teeth away from decay.
- Another habit is to make sure that the child eats all of chocolate at one shot than to keep nibbling at it for hours. That way, the chocolate can be managed with one round of brushing or rinsing
- it is advisable to give the child their share of chocolate at night, as most kids brush teeth before going to bed.
- Dark chocolates contain a good amount of antioxidants and are believed to reduce the incidence of plaque formation and therefore, they counter the effect of acids produced by the bacteria.
So, the next time someone talks about chocolates causing all the tooth decay, tell them it is not that bad, you can have your chocolate and eat it too!!