There are those who insist that fluoride is the safest and best way to protect our teeth. We’re not the only ones who beg to differ. In the words of one study published late last year in Environmental Health Perspectives,
[our] results support the possibility of an adverse effect of high fluoride exposure on children’s neurodevelopment.
Such concern is just one of the reasons why the citizens of Portland, Oregon recently voted against fluoridation of their water supply – along with environmental and ethical concerns, not to mention the fact that there is just no evidence that swallowing fluoride helps your teeth at all. As scientist Kathleen Thiessen, formally of the EPA, has said, “The CDC and others say whatever beneficial effect there is from fluoride is from topical use. It’s not from swallowing it. It never has been from swallowing it.” [emphasis added]
Moreover, scientists now aren’t even all that sure how fluoride works. Just a couple years ago, a study published in Langmuir, the journal of the American Chemical Society, showed that the “protective layer” fluoride is said to provide is actually “at least 10 times thinner” than believed and not apt to do much protecting at all.
Hence, the search for alternatives – such as the xylitol lozenges we talked about last time or, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t always read below the headline, chocolate.
Actually, it’s not chocolate itself but a compound in cocoa called theobromine. Several studies have now suggested that this alkaloid may encourage remineralization of the teeth – the process by which minerals are restored to a tooth’s structure. The newest research says it flat out: theobromine may be more effective than fluoride in restoring minerals.
And unlike fluoride, theobromine is safe for humans to digest in large doses. (Keep it away from pets, though. Theobromine is pretty much the reason why we don’t feed dogs chocolate).
So should you just eat a hunk of dark chocolate after each meal and floss? Of course not! The chocolate you buy as candy is usually laden with sugars, and sugars are the favorite food of the bacteria involved in tooth decay.
But there are now toothpastes available that contain this compound. The one we like best is Theodent. The product website includes much more than just info about the product but also the scientific research backing it up. Just click the “Science” tab.
And, of course, there are other things you can do to support remineralization of your teeth, which we’ve known since Weston Price began publishing the results of his nutritional research. What it comes down to is this: Eat nutrient dense whole foods that benefit the whole body, including your teeth, and take care of your teeth.
Yes, it really can be just that simple.
Updated 10 February 2014
Chocolate by Annedore’s Fine Chocolates
What does the research tell us about eating fermented cacao nibs after brushing?
We aren’t aware of any studies that are so specific. But because of their low sugar content and relative alkalinity, fermented cacao nibs shouldn’t spell trouble for your teeth.