A girl holding a glass of milk inside

Is Milk Good for Your Teeth?

It can be tough to make good dietary choices for your dental health. Is milk good or bad for your teeth? Does milk cause tooth cavities? Research says that milk and teeth are a great match, but the reasons why may surprise you. We’re here to lay out what you need to know about milk and dairy regarding your diet and mouth.

The Need for Milk Starts Early

Not only are milk and dairy products delicious, but they also make a significant contribution to your diet by offering an accessible source of calcium. This unique mineral supports vital metabolic processes, and your body stores ninety-nine percent of it in your bones and teeth, according to the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH). They recommend a daily intake of at least 200mg to 1,300mg of calcium from birth, varying with age.

Did you know: Calcium is the most common mineral in your body.

How Dairy Fights Cavities

Milk and dairy are good for our teeth, but why? According to the US-based University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry, dairy like cheese, milk, and yoghurt provide a variety of benefits:

  • They contain casein proteins that form a protective film on the surface of your teeth. These proteins protect the hard outer layer of your teeth (known as enamel) from cavities.
  • They are rich in calcium and phosphorus, minerals that repair damage to your teeth. When acid from germs and food break down your enamel, these minerals are there to help.
  • They’re mostly pH-neutral and can help neutralise acidic or sugary food and drinks. Be sure to consume dairy after your snack or meal.
  • They stimulate saliva production. Saliva helps maintain and repair your teeth, and healthy amounts lead to a better smile.

Remember that consuming dairy is just one part of a mouth-healthy lifestyle. Be sure to consume a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and mineral-rich items.

Getting More Milk in Your Diet

While many foods and drinks contain calcium, most people find consuming milk and dairy to be the easiest way to meet the recommended daily amount. Even better? Your body easily absorbs the type of calcium found in milk and dairy.

If you’re not a massive fan of drinking big glasses of milk, don’t worry. There are plenty of other ways to meet your calcium needs. Fortunately, we can all find items we love to eat in this list.

Other calcium-rich dairy options:

  • Yoghurt, plain or with fruit
  • Cheeses, including mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage
  • Meals containing buttermilk
  • Frozen yoghurt and ice cream
  • Calcium-fortified soy milk.

Helpful tip: Fat-free and low-fat dairy products typically contain the same calcium content.

Say No to Fizz, but Yes to Milk

Soft drinks can be tough on your teeth as it can wear them down over time. This wear is an essential factor to consider when choosing your diet, because enamel does not restore over time, making damage permanent without a dental professional’s aid.

The Oral Hygienists Association of South Africa (OHASA) notes that soft drinks have many potential health problems. In particular, the inherent acids and sugars can result in dental caries and potential enamel erosion. OHASA offers the following tips to prevent such damage:

  • Limit the intake of soft drinks and prefer low-erosive soft drinks
  • Improve drinking habits
  • Brush teeth at least twice a day, and preferably not within 1 hour of consuming acidic food.

The lesson? If you love having a cold drink handy in the refrigerator, stock up on milk instead of sugary and acidic beverages like soft drinks.

Milk Plus Oral Care Basics

Milk and dairy products are a fantastic way to enhance your dental health, but they aren’t a fix-all by themselves.

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss once a day.
  • Use mouthwash to help remove debris and food matter.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste.

Research and professional advice are in consensus that milk offers incredible benefits to your dental health. Now that you’re caught up on just how dairy products are a vital part of your diet, your beautiful smile can be the ultimate proof of exactly how well they work.

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