Dairy products are important for good overall health, especially its contributions to our bone health. Eating cheese and other dairy products are also known to promote dental health as they help protect teeth against cavities, according to a study published in the an issue of General Dentistry
In the study conducted for that publication, researchers randomly assigned 68 participants aged 12 to 15 to one of four groups: cheese, milk, sugar-free yogurt or control (paraffin). The subjects chewed or swished their product for three minutes and then swished their mouths with water. Researchers measured the dental plaque pH level at four sites in each participant’s mouth at a period before consumption and then at periodic intervals at 10, 20 and 30 minutes after consumption of these products.
The subjects in the milk, sugar-free yogurt and paraffin groups had no real significant changes in the overall pH levels in their mouths. The pH levels for those who ate cheese, however, increased rapidly and dramatically at each interval following consumption. This would suggest that cheese has anticavity properties and that eating cheese could help fight the dental battle against cavities and plaque build up.
A pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk of tooth erosion, which is a process that wears away tooth enamel and opens the door for plaque build up and tooth decay. “The higher the pH level is above 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities,” explains Vipul Yadav, lead author of the study.
The study results illustrated that the rising pH levels in the cheese group might have occurred because of increased saliva production, which could have been caused by chewing through the cheese itself. Also, various compounds found in cheese itself may adhere to tooth enamel and help protect teeth from acid that would otherwise eat away at the enamel on teeth, leading to tooth decay.
“It looks like dairy does the mouth good,” says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Dr. Seung-Hee Rhee, “Not only are dairy products a healthy alternative to carb or sugar-filled snacks, they also may be considered as a preventive measure against cavities.”
From an early age, we are encouraged to drink our milk. To the inevitable question “why” comes the response”, milk is good for you because it aids in the building of strong bones and teeth.” The same holds true for the other members of the milk family like yogurt and cheese. Dairy products are also good sources of protein as most nutrition programs suggest several portions of dairy products per day, more for young, growing children or pregnant or breast-feeding mothers.
But it turns out that eating cheese may be good for your teeth in more ways than one. Eating cheese may help reduce the incidence of cavities. When food is eaten, the pH often drops as the mouth becomes more acidic from the foods that are chewed. Teeth are very sensitive to acid and it appears that eating cheese helps maintain a pH level in the mouth that is safe for maintaining dental health and strong teeth. Under experimental conditions, it was shown that the pH drop following consumption of a 10% sugar solution was 4.26, but when the sugar solution was eaten after cheese, the pH dropped to only 6.48.
Aged cheddar, Swiss, blue, Monterey Jack, brie, Gouda, and processed American cheese all have been shown to reduce dental caries.