Gifting chocolates for Valentine’s Day can be considered as one of the holiday’s most recognizable traditions. In fact, Americans spend around $1.5 million on Valentine’s chocolate every year. Though this gesture is meant to be a kind and loving one, it may not be the best option when it comes to your oral health.

The history of chocolate is extremely interesting and dates back to the time of the Aztecs and Mayans. The most common form of chocolate at this point was cacao seeds. Even then, it was referred to as “the food of the gods.” It was often used a method of healing, currency, and worship.

Once the Europeans came to American, chocolate began being processed in a way that is most similar to the chocolate we consume today. It was determined that chocolate was more appetizing if ingredients such as honey and sugar were added to it. This created a much sweeter and richer form of chocolate compared to what was previously consumed.

There are some health benefits associated with eating chocolate. However, the consumption of this delectable treat can be harmful if it is over-consumed. Treats that contain sweet or semisweet chocolate have a high sugar content. A diet of high sugar may lead to health issues such as heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, cavities, and tooth decay

When choosing chocolate, going with dark chocolate is always the better and slightly healthier option. This is because dark chocolate, though bitter in taste, contain’s around 70% of the cocoa bean. The benefit of this is that the cocoa bean contains tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids – all antioxidants that benefit the mouth and teeth. These antioxidants prevent gum infections, battle tooth decay, inhibit bacteria from clinging to your teeth, ward off bad breath, and reduce the body’s inflammation.

The only downside to the healthier option of dark chocolate would be its high amount of caffeine. The body can handle a moderate amount of caffeine, which is most commonly consumed in your morning cup of coffee. In this case, dark chocolate would be best consumed on a day where you have not had other food or drinks that contain caffeine.

In comparison, the choice of milk chocolate contains only 25% of the cocoa bean. This means that the additional composition of ingredients are milk and sugar. When consuming milk chocolate, it is best to rid your mouth of the high amount of sugar that exists in your mouth afterward. Flossing can get in between the tight spaces where the chocolate may get stuck. It is best to brush your teeth around a half hour or so after eating chocolate. This is because of the amount of acid that exists in your mouth from eating the chocolate.

You can enjoy your Valentine’s Day chocolate, guilt free, by keeping a few things in mind. Firstly, you should eat your favorite chocolate in moderation. Next, you must take care of your teeth, as over consumption will definitely affect the healthy of your teeth. Most importantly, visiting your dentist regularly will ensure that your teeth are kept healthy!