Cheese and Dairy Products May Prevent Cavities

The study examined 68 participants with ages ranging from 12 to 15, and involved the researchers looking at dental plaque pH in the subjects’ mouths prior to and after they ate milk, cheese, or sugar-free yogurt. A pH level lower than 5.5 can put a person’s teeth at risk for tooth erosion – a process that wears away at the protective outer coating (enamel).

The participants were randomly split into three groups. Researchers had the first group eat cheddar cheese, the second group drink milk, and the third group eat sugar-free yogurt. Each group ate their respective product and then followed it with a glass of water. Researchers then measured the pH level of each subject’s mouth at 10, 20, and 30 minutes following consumption.

The subjects who ate milk and sugar-free yogurt saw no changes in pH levels in their mouths. However, participants who consumed cheese experienced a rapid boost in pH levels at each time interval, indicating that cheese has anti-cavity properties.

The study suggested that the rising pH levels due to cheese consumption may have occurred as a result of elevated saliva production, which could be due to the action of chewing. In addition, various cheese compounds may adhere to tooth enamel and further aid in protecting teeth from acid.

According to AGD spokesperson Seung-Hee Rhee, DDS, FAGD, “It looks like dairy does the mouth good. 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.”