Say Cheese! The Dental Benefits of Dairy

Attention all cheese lovers; I have wonderful news!  A recent study published by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) claims that consuming cheese and other dairy products can help prevent cavities.  Finally some positive press for a food that is often associated with fat and cholesterol.  A recent Medical News Today article discussed the study and quoted Seung-Hee Rhee, DDS and spokesperson for AGD as saying, “Not only are dairy products a healthy alternative to carb or sugar-filled snacks, they also may be considered as a preventative measure against cavities.”

The study, which was published in the latest issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the AGD, sampled close to 70 subjects ranging in age from 12 to 15.  Researchers observed the dental plaque pH in participants’ mouths before and after consuming cheese, milk, or sugar-free yogurt.  Apparently, a pH level lower than 5.5 indicates a risk for tooth erosion, or the process that wears away the protective layer of teeth.  Vipaul Yaday, MDS and lead author of the study, explains that the “higher the pH level is above 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities.”

Participants were split into 3 groups randomly, with one group eating cheddar cheese, another drinking milk, and the third eating sugar-free yogurt.  They all consumed their dairy for three minutes before swishing with water.  Researchers then measured pH levels at 10, 20, and 30 minute intervals after consumption.  The groups who consumed milk and sugar-free yogurt showed no change in their pH levels, while those who ate cheese showed a rapid increase in pH levels at each interval.  Researchers were able to conclude that cheese has anti-cavity properties.  Researchers theorized that the rising pH levels may have occurred due to an increase in saliva caused by the action of chewing, or that cheese contains various compounds that may adhere to tooth enamel, protecting it from acid.  Either way, this news excites me! I now have a legitimate justification for snacking on cheese, my all-time favorite food! Yippee!

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