With Valentine’s Day coming up, you may be thinking of getting your Valentine the tried-and-true present of a box of chocolates. But if you care about your Valentine’s dental health, you may be questioning whether or not a box of chocolates is a good choice. So what’s the ideal Valentine?
Sugar Wreaks Havoc on Teeth
You may have heard that sugar causes cavities, but the actual process is a little more complicated than that. The sugar itself doesn’t harm your teeth; however, the bacteria in your mouth that do harm your teeth love to feed on sugar. When you eat sugar-rich foods, those bacteria feed on the sugar particles in your mouth, which in turn causes them to produce acid. That acid weakens the enamel on your teeth, compromising your teeth’s defense against those very bacteria. Voilà! Cavities.
In this context, chocolates are full of sugar, and can definitely contribute to the formation of cavities if eaten in excess, and if not followed by a quick oral hygiene update with a toothbrush and some floss. But before you replace those chocolates with a different candy, you should know: Some candies are far worse than chocolate.
What’s Worse Than Chocolate?
Chocolate may be a problem, but it’s not the biggest threat when it comes to Valentine’s Day candy. Acidic candies like sour candy not only feed sugar to those cavity-causing bacteria, but they also do double duty, weakening your enamel with their acids as well. Caramel or other sticky candies are some of the worst, since they not only contain sugar, but stick that sugar to your teeth, making it easy for those bacteria to eat away at your enamel while they snack on sugars for longer. Similarly, hard candies stay in the mouth for a long time, bathing teeth in sugar. Plus, crunching down on a hard candy the wrong way could result in a cracked or chipped tooth. You don’t want to spend your Valentine’s Day evening dealing with a dental emergency, do you?
Look For Alternative Gifts
If you’re married to the idea of traditional chocolate, dark chocolate is a healthier alternative for the teeth. It’s less sticky, less sugary, and even contains some helpful antioxidants. Drinking lots of water and brushing your teeth after eating candy are good ways to keep the candy you do eat from having a major impact on your teeth.
Best of all, try a Valentine’s Day gift that isn’t candy at all. If you’re looking for something edible, a fruit bouquet is a fun twist on the classic (but temporary) gift of flowers. A sweet card or letter will be a lasting reminder of your feelings. And if you want to provide flowers that won’t wilt in a few days, a potted flowering plant is a sweet alternative that will brighten up a room or a desk in the long term.