As orthodontists we have mixed feelings towards Easter: on one hand we see the damage that sugar can have on your teeth first-hand, but on the other hand – who doesn’t like chocolate? And why does it taste so much better when it’s shaped like an egg?
Luckily, Easter doesn’t have to spell a dental disaster. Just follow these tips for guilt-free indulgence:
1. Choose a Dark Chocolate Egg
Chocolate has built up a bad reputation over the years. It’s often loaded with sugar and has a habit of finding its way into every crevice (thanks to its delicious melt in the mouth texture). But recent studies show there’s light at the end of that Curly Wurly: chocolate is actually good for your teeth!
Well, sort of. Cocoa beans – a key ingredient of chocolate – have been found to contain all sorts of tooth-friendly compounds, which can help to combat tooth decay and prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth. They also contain theobromine, which has been shown to be more effective than fluoride at hardening tooth enamel.
But before you happily swap your toothpaste for chocolate spread, remember it’s the bean that contains the good stuff, sadly not a Creme Egg. Nibbling on unprocessed cocoa beans would provide you with the biggest benefits, but it might not prove to be a wholly enjoyable experience.
Instead opt for good quality dark chocolate, with a high percentage of cocoa (upwards of 70%). That way you should hopefully enjoy the benefits of the bean without feeling hard done-by. Dark chocolate also contains less sugar than white or milk chocolate – so you can feel extra virtuous.
2. Enjoy Your Egg(s) at Mealtimes
When chocolate is taken out of its usual bar form and shaped into a gigantic egg, it becomes difficult to keep track of how much you’ve eaten, and seemingly huge eggs can be devoured in minutes.
From a slightly selfish ‘we love teeth’ point of view, it’s actually better for your teeth to be subjected to just the one sugar assault, rather than a multitude of separate attacks throughout the day.
There are probably a few good reasons why eating a whole Easter egg in one go isn’t a great idea though. So find a compromise and try to keep your egg enjoyment to mealtimes (while sticking to your daily recommended allowances), and avoid grazing on chocolate throughout the day – as tempting as that sounds.
3. Don’t Brush Your Teeth Straight Away
You may think that you’re doing the right thing by efficiently brushing your teeth straight after enjoying chocolate, but you could actually be doing more harm than good.
Immediately after you’ve finished polishing off your egg your mouth will be acidic, which will soften the enamel of your teeth, making them more vulnerable to damage caused by brushing. Instead, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing, which will give your saliva time to neutralise any acidity. In the meantime a glass of water will help to rinse away any lingering lumps of chocolate.
We hope this helps you to enjoy Easter just that little bit more. Of course you could cut out chocolate altogether, but where’s the fun in that?