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How Milk May Help Reduce Tooth Decay Caused by Sugary Foods

October 10, 2019

How Milk May Help Reduce Tooth Decay Caused by Sugary Foods

We all know that drinking milk is excellent for growing bones and teeth, but did you know that drinking milk after consuming sugary foods can reduce the damage sugar can do to teeth? While it’s always a good idea to limit children’s sugar intake, you can always count on milk and dairy products to help keep their teeth in tip-top shape!

How Does Sugar Cause Decay?

Sugar itself isn’t the reason kids develop tooth decay. What it does is create an environment that allows bacteria to flourish. When your child consumes sugary foods or beverages, harmful bacteria in the plaque on the teeth break down the sugars and produce acids. These acids attack the outer surfaces of the teeth called the enamel, which results in tooth decay and cavities. If left untreated, the damage can progress deeper into the tooth, all the way to the nerves, causing pain and potentially resulting in tooth loss.

How Dairy Helps Fight Decay

Drinking milk and consuming dairy products may be beneficial due to containing high levels of calcium, as well as phosphorus and proteins called caseins. When combined, these elements strengthen and form a protective film on the tooth enamel, which helps prevent decay caused by bacterial acid erosion. Calcium and phosphorus can also help reverse some of the damage already done to tooth enamel.

A study examined whether drinking water, apple juice, or milk or doing nothing after eating sugary cereal would affect the acidity of the dental plaque. Drinking milk was found to be the most beneficial in helping lower acidity, followed by water, eating cereal only, and lastly by drinking apple juice.

The American Dental Association (ADA) emphasizes that the order in which foods and milk products are consumed can also make a difference to one’s dental health. That is because drinking milk after consuming sugary foods can lower the acidic levels in the mouth. So it’s best not have milk with dessert, but to wash it down with milk when done. It is also better to consume sugary treats as part of the main meal rather than as a stand-alone snack. The reason is that the frequency of exposure of teeth to acids is just as critical as the quantity of sugar consumed.

Diet and Oral Health

It’s tough to eliminate sugary treats and beverages altogether when you have kids at home. Consider stocking up on more milk and less juice and sodas. Even chocolate milk is a healthy snack, so if kids have to have something sugary, make sure they still get oral and overall health benefits.

Oral Hygiene for Healthy Teeth

While milk and dairy products help make your kid’s teeth more resistant to decay, incorporating a proper oral hygiene routine is key to preventing dental disease. Make sure they brush at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to clean where the toothbrush can’t reach. Don’t forget to schedule dental checkups and professional cleanings twice a year.

Quality Pediatric Dental Care in Phoenix Arizona

Contact Jet Set Smiles Pediatric Dentistry to learn more about keeping your child’s teeth healthy and sound. Our exceptional, child-friendly team is committed to delivering quality, gentle care in a relaxing environment. We look forward to caring for your child’s dental needs. Call us today!