An organic compound, theobromine, found in chocolate is better than fluoride at remineralising and hardening tooth enamel, according to a new study published in Caries Research.1
The study investigated the surface micro-hardness of enamel after artificial enamel lesions were treated with theobromine, fluoride or artificial saliva. While artificial saliva did not contribute to enamel remineralisation, theobromine demonstrated mineral gain at a greater rate than fluoride. By increasing the size of apatite crystals that form and strengthen enamel, theobromine makes teeth less vulnerable to bacterial acid erosion that can eventually lead to cavities.
Theobromine is an active ingredient in Rennou, the patented chocolate extract used in Theodent toothpastes (available in the US and Canada), which is safe to swallow. Rennou was invented by a dentist with a PhD in nutrition who spent his professional career studying the effects of methylated xanthines on teeth. He collaborated with two experts in analytical geology and discovered Rennou's effects on teeth and enamel.
With this study supporting the efficacy of theobromine, the chocolate extract could set the stage for other alternatives to fluoride-based oral care products.
Amaechi B T, Porteous N, Ramalingam K et al. Remineralization of artificial enamel lesions by theobromine. Caries Res 2013; 47: 399–405.
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Pacey, L. Could chocolate replace toothpaste?. Br Dent J 214, 491 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2013.499