This week marks the beginning of National Dairy Month. People have long known that incorporating dairy into their diets can benefit their health. Milk makes bones strong and healthy and even aids in weight loss. Dairy products also benefit oral health. In honor of National Dairy Month, Dr. Brad Greenfield explains little-known facts about dairy’s relationship to dental health.
Nutrients in Milk Protect Tooth Enamel Against Acid Attacks
Some foods that have refined sugars also contain fermentable carbohydrates that lower the pH (acidity level) of saliva. When saliva’s pH drops below 5.5, minerals that strengthen teeth, including calcium and phosphates, are sapped by acids. Tooth enamel softens and becomes vulnerable to bacterial invasion, which leads to tooth decay. Minerals and proteins in milk (and other dairy products) re-mineralize tooth enamel, making it strong again.
If your diet does not allow you to consume whole milk, don’t worry. Lowering levels of proteins, fat, or lactose (i.e. low-fat or reduced-lactose milk) does not affect milk’s protective capacity against demineralization.
Calcium is Essential to Strong and Healthy Teeth
Calcium serves many purposes in your body, including enabling your muscles and blood vessels to contract and expand, your blood to clot, and your nervous system to send signals, to name a few. About 90% of your body’s calcium is stored in your bones and teeth. When your calcium levels get low, your body will redirect calcium from your bones and teeth to your bloodstream to keep blood levels adequate.
Unfortunately, the human body does not produce calcium, so we have to consume the mineral in foods and beverages. Milk and other dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, provide calcium to keep your teeth and jawbone strong and reduce your proclivity for tooth decay and gum disease.
Scheduled checkups every six months, with Dr. Greenfield, allow us to address signs of demineralization, tooth decay, or infection in the teeth, gum, or jawbones. Early detection provides the best opportunity for successful treatment of most diseases.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Greenfield, call Lake Orion Family Dentistry at (248) 693-6213. We welcome families from Lake Orion, Oxford, Rochester Hills, Clarkston, and the surrounding communities.