The Truth About Dairy’s Effect on Teeth

January 5, 2016

While in general, people tend to believe that the calcium in dairy products are good for strong bones and your overall health to some degree, many people may not be aware of the effect that eating dairy products has on your oral health. Up until recently, there has been little research on the subject. Nowadays, dentists are discovering more about how dairy intake affects your teeth and gums. Here’s some more science on the subject.

The Deets on Dairy

CheeseAccording to a study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, consuming cheese and other dairy products may help protect teeth against cavities. The study looked closely at 68 subjects ranging in age from 12 to 15 years old, and examined the pH of the subjects’ mouths before and after they consumed cheese, milk, or sugar-free yogurt. The pH level determines the acidity of your mouth. A lower pH means more acidic and more detrimental to teeth. A pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk for enamel erosion.

Results showed that consuming milk and sugar-free yogurt did not change pH levels in the mouth. Eating cheese, however, rapidly increases the pH levels in the mouth, thereby protecting teeth from the acids that cause decay. The study suggests that the rising pH levels from eating cheese may have occurred due to increased saliva production caused by the action of chewing. Additionally, various compounds found in cheese may stick to tooth enamel, creating more of a buffer to the acids present.

The Case for Calcium and Casein

On top of its effects on pH levels, milk and other dairy products contain the right nutrients for oral health. Obviously, the calcium found in milk is one of the main components of teeth and bones, but there’s another nutrient called Casein. Casein is a family of proteins comprising 80% of the milk protein that can help to recruit calcium phosphates to repair cavities. Casein is also able to prevent the cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to the tooth surface. In addition to casein, milk also contains other proteins and antibodies that promote oral health due to their antibacterial properties.

A diet rich in dairy is a big factor in your oral health. It’s also important to develop great oral care habits and make regular visits to your dentist. If it’s time for a checkup, give us a call today!

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