San Diego, CA – We know that consuming an adequate amount of dairy products is important to your overall health. Dairy is especially important to proper bone development and health. So how then can dairy affect your oral health?
Teeth aren’t technically bones, although tooth enamel shares many of the same properties as bone. But research shows that dairy products have as much of a positive effect on your teeth as they do your bones. That’s because calcium can work to strengthen your enamel.
“It’s important to eat an ideal amount of dairy products to ensure a healthy smile and body,” says San Diego dentist Dr. Santiago Surillo. “But, as with anything, not all dairy products are equal. While any amount of calcium is better than none, one of the best foods for you to consume for healthy, strong teeth is actually cheese.”
A study published in 2013 in an issue of General Dentistry, the official publication of the Academy of General Dentistry, found that cheese actually had the best anti-cavity properties.
The study looked at how dairy products can affect the pH balance of a person’s mouth. If the pH level of your mouth is too low, it creates an environment prone to tooth decay. The higher the pH level is, the lower the chance of developing cavities.
Three study groups were assigned different dairy rich foods. Group one ate cheddar cheese, group two drank milk, and group three ate sugar-free yogurt. Groups two and three showed no significant changes in pH level after consumption. However, those in group one saw rapid increases in their pH level.
“There could be a couple of reasons for this,” says Dr. Surillo. “First, chewing automatically increases our saliva production. This is our mouth’s natural way to reduce the acidity level and keep our mouths healthy. But there are also certain compounds that can be found in cheese that adhere to our tooth enamel, making it stronger and less prone to the acid attacks that lead to decay.”
Many dairy products contain a protein called casein, but it is especially found in cheese. Casein plays an important role in strengthening and repairing tooth enamel.
But again, not all cheeses are created equal. As with most foods, it is important to avoid processed cheese products, as they will have added sugars and less real cheese in them. When looking for a cheese that not only tastes good, but can help your teeth, Dr. Surillo suggests snacking on one of the following:
- Monterey Jack
When reaching for your next snack, remember that cheese is not only healthy for your bones, but might just improve your smile, too.