Valentine’s Day is the day of the year that people like to shower their loved ones with affection by giving them sugary sweets. Believe it or not, it is estimated that $18.9 billion will be spent on gifts this year, and $1.7 billion of that will be spent on candy. Lollipops and hard candies lingering in your mouth will damage your teeth, so we recommend sticking with the tradition of chocolate, and here’s why:

We recommend choosing chocolate over other types of candy because it is less likely to get stuck in the spaces between your teeth, which are difficult to reach with a toothbrush. Sticky sweets can stay lodged in the mouth for long periods of time, increasing your risk of developing cavities. However, saliva is able to wash most of the chocolate off the surfaces of your teeth.

Research has shown that the ingredients used to make chocolate, such as cocoa beans, contain flavonoids which offer protection to the body from a variety of toxins. Flavonoids can improve blood flow to the heart and brain and help lower blood pressure. Dark chocolate is preferred because it contains a higher amount of flavonoids. You’ll want to look for high-quality dark chocolate and cocoa powders that have undergone minimal processing.

The Texas A&M Health Center reports that tannins, an ingredient present in the cocoa bean, interferes with bacteria’s harmful interaction with teeth and may actually help prevent cavities. Just like flavonoids, tannins have been found to be present more often in dark chocolates. You’ll want to choose a dark chocolate that is close to 70 percent cacao to get the most benefits.

In addition to the oral health benefits, studies have shown that dark chocolate benefits vascular health, helps fight premature signs of aging, can improve blood flow and heart function, and boosts mood and overall sense of well-being.

Remember to consume any sweets, including chocolate, in moderation. Excessive sugar intake can lead to many dental problems including erosion and the destruction of the tooth’s enamel, which can cause more complicated dental issues later.

There is a close relationship among your diet, oral care routine, and the overall health of your teeth and gums, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate that we all love. So relax, enjoy a tasty treat, and spend the day with that someone special; just don’t forget to brush your teeth.