Chocolate That’s OK for Your Teeth
Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008
Eat a lot of sugar, increase your risk of cavities. We all know this. But why is it so?
As we wrote earlier,
Refined carbohydrates like sugar have a much greater tendency to stick to the tooth enamel than fats and proteins. Oral microbes love this and set about feasting on the sugars. They multiply and colonize as biofilm. And it’s precisely their metabolic byproducts that create the acidic conditions mentioned above. Ideally, saliva neutralizes the acidity, but when biofilm covers the oral surfaces, it can’t do the job.
Typically, these acidic conditions peak for about 20 to 30 minutes. Thus, a person who habitually eats sugars and refined carbs over an extended period is effectively nursing the problem, ensuring that conditions remain acidic and the biofilm is allowed to proliferate. Together, these greatly increase the risk of cavity formation.
But not all sugars are alike, and one Belgian chocolate-maker is now banking on this:
Barry Callebaut’s tooth-friendly chocolate secret lies in its special production process and composition. Milk powder is replaced by milk proteins and sugar by isomaltulose, a natural sugar which can be found in small concentrations in honey and sugar cane. Isomaltulose belongs to the sugar group and, just like refined sugar, is composed of glucose and fructose.
Isomaltulose differs in its resistance to decomposition by oral bacteria and does not cause an increase in acidity in the mouth, thus protecting the teeth from decay. It is only when acidity levels are high and the corresponding pH level drops below the critical value of 5.7 that there is a risk of forming dental caries. The pH level in the mouth remains above this level during and after consumption of tooth-friendly chocolate. Isomaltulose tastes almost as sweet as sugar, is easily digested and, contrary to sweeteners such as polyols, there is no accompanying laxative effect, the company said.
Interested in other “tooth-friendly” sweets? Then check out Toothfriendly International and its list of tooth-safe sweets from around the world.