Chocolate has been a long-maligned food when it comes to dental health, and probably for good reason. Most chocolate sold today is not chocolate at all; in fact, the majority of chocolate sold and consumed is nothing more than sugar, dairy, and a tiny amount of processed cacao. Significant health benefits attributed to dark chocolate are lost in processed milk chocolate, which is why it’s so often linked to negative health outcomes in the population. Dark chocolate is the preferred chocolate you should consume if you’re seeking any type of beneficial health effects. Recent research has shown that dark, unprocessed cacao has benefits that go beyond cellular protection, with one study showing it may be effective for supporting oral hygiene.

The Dental Benefits of Chocolate

Research examining a powerful flavonoid extract derived from cacao–the source of modern-day chocolate–is showing powerful effects for oral health. [1] Theobromine, an alkaloid found in cacao and tea, may provide antioxidant effects against gum disease and tooth erosion. Some researchers are in fact pitting this chocolate extract against fluoride, a common neurotoxin added to toothpastes and the public water supply. This recent research is actually showing that this chocolate extract may actually be more effective than fluoride.

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There are many reasons why you should avoid fluoride in favor of theobromine, the natural extract from the cacao plant. For one, fluoride may promote neurotoxic effectsfollowing prolonged exposure. [2] Also, too much fluoride ingestion can actually cause fluorosis, a complicated and frustrating condition that results in yellowing of the teeth and even calcification of ligaments. Fluoride just isn’t the safest ingredient for promoting oral health. Plant-based extracts, however, are showing more promise.

Take Home

While the research is promising, it isn’t suggesting you’re doing your teeth and gums good by eating a chocolate bar. If anything, if you’re wanting that chocolate fix, grab a handful of unprocessed and organic cacao nibs to satisfy your craving. To support your teeth and gums without using fluoride, be sure you’re brushing with fluoride-free toothpaste, flossing every day, drinking water, avoiding sugar, and getting plenty of vitamin D. You may also want to look into herbal support, like Fresh Mouth™, as an adjunct to your daily regimen.

How do you protect your teeth without using fluoride? Let us know in the comments!

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

  1. Tulane University. Chocolate Toothpaste? Extract Of Tasty Treat Could Fight Tooth Decay. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2007.
  2. Choi AL, Zhang Y, Sun G, et al. Association of lifetime exposure to fluoride and cognitive functions in Chinese children: a pilot study. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2015 Jan-Feb;47:96-101. doi: 10.1016/

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