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Give Your Valentine the Gift of Good Dental Health

By Jill Feilmeier on February 13, 2014 in Dental Health

2.13 Give Your Valentine the Gift of Good Dental Health

Chocolate Treat Breakdown: Best and Worst For Your Teeth

A heart-shaped box of candy is a traditional gift for Valentine's Day. If you plan on purchasing one for your sweetheart, choose one that contains more milk chocolate than caramels, because not all chocolates are created equal. Here are some of the worst offenders – and the chocolates you can reach for at least, tooth guilt-free.

The Sweetest Treats

Milk or white chocolate: Plain milk or white chocolate are the best choices when it comes to sweet treats. In fact, 70 percent of dentists who give out candy on Halloween choose chocolate because it melts quickly. That means it doesn’t cling to teeth long, and since even saliva can help wash away chocolate, it gives bacteria less time to stick around and cause cavities.

Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is a great option for the same reasons that milk and white chocolate are good selections. Dark chocolate is an even better sweet treat, though, because it contains heart-healthy antioxidants!

Nut-filled: Nuts are generally a good choice for teeth. They contain protein, calcium, and phosphorus, substances that help re-mineralize teeth after important minerals are removed by acids. Be careful how you crunch – you don't want to break a tooth – and avoid sticky fillings that are mixtures of nuts and caramel or nougat.

The Not-So-Sweet Treats

Caramel-filled: Super sticky foods like caramel can be your teeth's worst nightmare. Cavities are often caused when bacteria break refined sugars down into acid, which dissolves tooth enamel. Foods that are sticky cling to teeth longer, giving acid more time for damage and destruction.

Nougat-filled: Like caramel, nougat – which is typically made with a lot of sugar or corn syrup – is clingy and can be harmful to your teeth if left there too long. If nougat isn’t one of your absolute favorites, skip it in favor of another chocolate.

Jelly-filled: Jam and jelly are usually very sugary and will cling to teeth just like caramel and nougat.

You could also bypass the chocolate issue entirely and consider an alternative gift. May we suggest jewelry? It's just as thoughtful and totally sugar-free.