The Best Treats for Your Sweetie This Valentine's Day

Posted on February 14, 2013 in General oral health

Your Valentine will likely love the heart-shaped box of chocolates you're planning on gifting, but the dentist probably won't. Not all chocolates in the assortment are created equal, though. Here are some of the worst offenders – and the chocolates you can reach for guilt-free.

The Best Treats

Milk or white chocolate: Plain milk or white chocolate are the best choices when it comes to sweet treats. In fact, 70% 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 chance 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 lots of protein, calcium and phosphorus, substances that help remineralize 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 Worst Treats

Caramel-filled: Super sticky foods like caramel can be your teeth's worst nightmare. Tooth decay is 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 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. My favorite? Flowers. They're just as thoughtful and totally sugar-free.