Calcium is a key component for building strong bones, as you probably know, and milk products are loaded with it. In fact, just 1 cup of milk provides almost 300 milligrams of calcium. But that's not all; dairy products keep your teeth as healthy as your bones throughout your life. So, is milk good for your teeth? The answer is a resounding yes, and here's why.
Need for Milk Starts Early
Your teeth and bones store 99 percent of your body's calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Because a baby's teeth begin forming long before birth, expecting mothers should consume their "Recommended Dietary Allowance" of it: between 1000 and 1300 mg per day. This ensures the unborn baby receives enough calcium, phosphorus and other nutrients necessary for the proper development of their teeth and bones. From infancy through the teen years, however, milk and dairy products continue to be important for growth and development. And as you age, calcium is a vital mineral in preventing osteoporosis.
How Dairy Fights Decay
Based on current research, as reported by Nutrition Australia, milk and dairy products such as cheeses can actually reduce tooth decay as well. Not only do they contain calcium and phosphorus, but also proteins called caseins, which combine together to form a protective film on the enamel – or the surface of your teeth. This coating helps to prevent your teeth from incurring decay caused by common bacterial acids. Calcium and phosphorus are both minerals that strengthen and repair tooth enamel that has started to dissolve due to these acid attacks.
The American Dental Association (ADA) proposes the order in which you eat sugary foods and milk products can also make a difference to your dental health. This is because drinking milk after eating sugary foods can lower harmful acidic levels in your mouth. So don't have milk with your chocolate chip cookies – wash them down with milk afterward.
Getting More Milk in Your Diet
Although many foods contain calcium, NIH suggests milk and dairy products are best because they are absorbed easily by your body. Besides calcium, milk is also rich in phosphorus and magnesium, and is fortified with Vitamin D – all of which help your body absorb and use calcium more effectively. And if you're watching your calories, skim milk will give you the same levels of calcium as whole milk.
Nevertheless, if you and your family are not big milk-drinkers, there are many other dairy products that can help you reach your daily RDA. Yogurts, cheeses and buttermilk are examples of good substitutes, and they can be found in fat-free or low-fat versions. Just don't forget puddings, cottage cheese and, everyone's favorite, ice cream.
Say No to Soda, but Yes to Milk
If you have kids at home, limiting sugary drinks and sodas is often easier said than done. But knowing milk is the perfect antidote to tooth decay, you'll want to stock the fridge with more milk and less soda. Even if they aren't fans of white milk, Dairy Farmers of Canada agree with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry in suggesting even chocolate milk is a good snack. Who doesn't like a cold glass of chocolate milk or a cup of hot cocoa?
Milk Plus Oral Care Basics
Eating and drinking plenty of milk and dairy can make your family's teeth stronger and more decay-resistant, but incorporating a good oral care routine is key to preventing dental disease. Be sure everyone is brushing twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Keep in mind flossing at least once a day is necessary for cleaning between the teeth, where the toothbrush can't reach. For a bit of extra protection, add an antimicrobial mouthwash like Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™ to the routine. And of course, regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are the icing on the cake.
Is milk good for your teeth? Of course, and your family's healthy teeth and gums are proof of just how good it is.