Do you remember the creative ads sponsored by the American Dairy Farmers Council about “how milk does a body good”? Well, now there’s evidence that dairy not only helps with bone health but may also help prevent cavities too. Until recently there has been little study or research about dairy products, particularly cheese, and how they affect our oral health. But a recent article published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), may have just given us another reason to consume more cheese.
A Snapshot of the Study
In this study, 68 subjects, between the ages of 12 to 15, had the pH levels of their mouth assessed before and after consuming cheese, milk and sugar-free yogurt. Anyone with a pH level of 5.5 or lower is at risk for enamel erosion of their teeth. Of course, if the pH level is 5.5 or higher than the lower the risk. Simply put, low pH levels put individuals at risk for developing cavities.
As subjects were randomly assigned into groups, the first group ate cheddar cheese, the second group drank milk and the third group consumed sugar-free yogurt. After the subjects consumed their product for three minutes, all subjects were then asked to rinse their mouths with water. Researchers measured the pH level levels of all subjects at 10, 20 and 30 minute intervals after they ate their designated dairy snack.
Groups two and three, who consumed milk and sugar-free yogurt respectively, revealed no sign of change in the pH levels of their mouths. Yet, subjects who ate the cheddar cheese revealed a rapid increase in their pH levels at every interval measurement suggesting that cheese has anti-cavity properties.
The study also indicated that the increase in pH levels from eating cheese may have occurred because of an increase in saliva production caused by the added action of chewing by the subjects. Researchers also remarked that the various compounds found in cheese may adhere to the tooth’s enamel to protect teeth from acid.
In time, further research may reveal whether cheese can be considered a preventive measure against cavities. What we do know for certain is that dairy products are preferred over sugary or carb-filled snacks for better dental health. It is noteworthy that by design the study did not address any of the concerns surrounding animal derived products and fats in dairy foods such as cheeses.
Avoiding Gooey or Sticky Snacks
As a dentist I’d prefer my patients stick to healthy fruits like oranges and veggies like carrot sticks. Before you pick a snack think about how long foods stay in your mouth. For example, sticky, gooey and chewy carbs tend to do more damage to teeth than raw fruit and veggies simply because they hang on to tooth enamel longer. Also be wary of hidden sugars. It’s not just candy bars that are offenders. These days’ sugars are hiding in unexpected places like cereals, salad dressings, and even bread. Also take a second look at that label. Are you consuming molasses, fructose, sucrose or brown sugar and how much?
By pausing for a moment and thinking about what are eating, you are in a position to control your future health. At our Southfield dental office, we can’t always be there to help you make the right decisions about nutrition and better dental health, but we can provide the resources and tools that can have you making better choices.
Until your next appointment, check out our website @ https://drlangberg.wpengine.com. We have information and links to great patient information catered to giving you the best dental care we can.
Thank you for reading this,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD