New Research Shows Cheese May Prevent Cavities

plate of various cheeses

New Research Shows Cheese May Prevent CavitiesΒ 
CHICAGO (June 5, 2013)β€”Consuming dairy products is vital to maintaining good overallΒ 
health, and it’s especially important to bone health. But there has been little research about how dairy products affect oral health in particular. However, according to a new study published inΒ the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of theΒ Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), consuming cheese and other dairy products may helpΒ protect teeth against cavities.Β 

The study sampled 68 subjects ranging in age from 12 to 15, and the authors looked at the dental plaque pH in the subjects’ mouths before and after they consumed cheese, milk, or sugar-freeΒ yogurt. A pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk for tooth erosion, which is a process thatΒ wears away the enamel (or protective outside layer) of teeth. β€œThe higher the pH level is aboveΒ 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities,” explains Vipul Yadav, MDS, lead author of theΒ study. The subjects were assigned into groups randomly. Researchers instructed the first group to eatΒ cheddar cheese, the second group to drink milk, and the third group to eat sugar-free yogurt. Each group consumed their product for three minutes and then swished with water. ResearchersΒ measured the pH level of each subject’s mouth at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after consumption.Β The groups who consumed milk and sugar-free yogurt experienced no changes in the pH levelsΒ in their mouths. Subjects who ate cheese, however, showed a rapid increase in pH levels at eachΒ time interval, suggesting that cheese has anti-cavity properties.Β 

The study indicated that the rising pH levels from eating cheese may have occurred due toΒ increased saliva production (the mouth’s natural way to maintain a baseline acidity level), whichΒ could be caused by the action of chewing. Additionally, various compounds found in cheese mayΒ adhere to tooth enamel and help further protect teeth from acid.Β 

β€œIt looks like dairy does the mouth good,” says AGD spokesperson Seung-Hee Rhee, DDS,Β FAGD. β€œNot only are dairy products a healthy alternative to carb- or sugar-filled snacks, theyΒ also may be considered as a preventive measure against cavities.” 
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To learn more about oral health, visit KnowYourTeeth.com.