You perhaps already know that consuming dairy products is vital for overall health, especially bone health - but did you know they can benefit oral health as well?
According to a new study from India, consuming cheese and other dairy products may help protect teeth against cavity formation.
This study examined oral health in 68 students aged 17-20 years from a private dental college who agreed to refrain from oral hygiene procedures for 48 hours. Along with calcium and phosphorus levels, the pH of their dental plaque was measured after they had consumed different dairy products including cheese, milk and sugar-free yogurt. Their data was then compared with that of a control group.
Plaque pH levels lower than 5.5 raise the risk of tooth erosion, which is when the protective outer layer of teeth known as enamel is worn away. On the other hand, the higher the pH level above 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities.
In the present study, researchers instructed one group of students to eat cheddar cheese, the second group to drink milk and the third group to eat sugar-free yogurt.
Each group of students consumed their product for three minutes and then swished with water. Researchers measured the pH level of each subject's mouth at 10, 20 and 30 minutes after consumption.
Students who consumed milk and sugar-free yogurt experienced no changes in their dental plaque pH levels. However, those who ate cheese showed a rapid increase in their pH levels at each time interval, suggesting that cheese has anti-cavity properties.
This rise in pH levels from eating cheese may be because of increased saliva production - also, various compounds in cheese may stick to tooth enamel and protect teeth from the damaging effects of low pH.
All in all, it does look as though dairy does the mouth a lot of good.
Not only are dairy products a healthy alternative to carb- or sugar-filled snacks, they may also turn out to be an effective preventive measure against cavities.