‘You need calcium for strong teeth and bones.’ ‘Drink your milk; it’s good for you.’ That dairy products are regularly viewed as ‘good for’ your teeth isn’t news. However, recent dietary trends sometimes advise cutting down on dairy. So, are there appropriate substitutes? How does the dairy actually affect your teeth? Without more detailed knowledge, it is hard to ensure that dairy is playing the role it should in your diet.
The key reason that dairy is regularly lauded is because it is such a good source of calcium. Calcium is essential for healthy teeth. This is because it is the primary ingredient in the mineral hydroxapatite, which strengthens your tooth enamel. Yet dairy isn’t the only source of calcium available. A quick browse of the supermarket shelves will show calcium-fortified drinks. It can also be found in canned fish and in leafy greens such as broccoli and okra. To determine whether you are getting enough, check the ingredients. The NHS recommends that you consume 700mg of calcium a day. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium but if you look to alternative sources, ensure that you are meeting this recommended daily allowance.
Dairy products also contain the protein casein. This is especially prominent in cheese! So it can help guard your tooth enamel: both repairing and stabilising it. So dairy products can help guard the teeth against cavities. Research has suggested that this is due to the affect that eating dairy has upon the mouth: increasing the production of saliva. Some studies have shown that ph levels in the mouth have actually risen following the consumption of cheese.
Of course, dietary choices may take into consideration aspects other than oral health. However, the benefits of dairy are something that your teeth will thank you for! If you do choose to avoid dairy, make sure to actively include other products which will help you keep your teeth in good health. If you would like further advice, do ask your dentist, who will be happy to advise you.