As a dental patient, you may be more used to hearing which foods are bad for your teeth rather than good for them. While we all should know that acidic foods or foods high in sugar are bad for your teeth, did you know that cheese has been shown to be good for your teeth? If this particular dairy delight is one of your favorite snacks, here's how you can use the prevention of tooth decay to justify eating more of it!
Cheese's newfound tooth-strengthening super power is the result of a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry. The study looked at several dairy products, including milk, yogurt and cheese, and measured the effects that consuming each one had on the Ph of a person's mouth. (The Ph scale measures how acidic, alkaline or base a substance is.)
What does Ph have to do with it? Acid, or substances with a low Ph, are the biggest enemies of your tooth enamel, which is the hard outer coating of your teeth. Acids can eat away at this layer, exposing the more vulnerable layers beneath and giving infection- and gum disease-causing bacteria a place to thrive. Acid can be found in citrus fruits and diet sodas and are a by-product of bacteria's consumption of sugar. One of the purposes of saliva is to re-balance the Ph in your mouth after you consume these types of foods.
The study found that Ph levels in participants' mouths were elevated for 30 minutes after consuming cheddar cheese. These results even beat out the other dairy products in the study: both milk and yogurt only elevated mouth Ph for 10 minutes each. The reason for this effect was the fact that cheese promotes saliva production and also contains calcium and protein, which are the building blocks for a healthy mouth and preventing tooth decay.
We realize that cheese isn't the most "diet friendly" food there is, but the good news is the AGD study found that it only takes 1/3 ounce (9 g) of cheese to cause the Ph change that can help prevent tooth decay. Adding just a little cheese to your snack routine can help prevent cavities!